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Durham courts will delay most hearings and trials because of virus precautions

The Durham County Courthouse will be pretty quiet for the next month.

The Durham County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday that starting Monday, March 16, almost all cases scheduled for the next 30 days will be postponed until no earlier than April 16 because of concerns about exposing people to the coronavirus. 

“Recognizing that hundreds of people visit the Durham County Courthouse on a daily basis, these changes are aimed at reducing traffic in the courthouse and accommodating those who are ill or at high-risk of illness due to COVID-19,” the DA’s office said in a news release.

The announcement follows directives from North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley about which cases may continue and a requirement that local clerks post notices directing people not to enter the courthouse if they’ve been exposed to the virus.

While the Durham Courthouse will remain open, only “emergency” proceedings will go on. These include bond, probable cause, and some probation hearings. The courts will continue to hear requests for restraining orders and domestic violence protective orders. And grand juries that have already been empaneled will continue to operate. 

Beasley also allowed exceptions for remotely-held proceedings and those that judges determine will not jeopardize participants’ health or safety. 

Online services, such as eFilings and payments, will also continue.

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