Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton announced Friday that he has plans to issue an order to extend the Statewide Judicial Emergency -- for the last time.
That order was first issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 14, 2020, and it's been extended 15 times since then.
But in a virtual meeting Friday afternoon that included members of the state's Judicial Council, Chief Justice Melton told the group of Georgia judges that he intends to end the Judicial Emergency at 11:59 p.m. on June 30. Georgia's Judicial Council is the state's policy-making body for the judiciary.
Chief Justice Melton will issue what he plans to be the last order that extends the emergency on Monday, June 7.
At that time, he'll also issue a formal “Notice of Expected Termination of Statewide Judicial Emergency."
The chief judges of Georgia's 49 superior court judicial circuits do have the authority to issue their own judicial emergency orders to suspend certain legal deadlines and make plans for makeshift courtrooms.
Chief judges of state and superior courts can also grant relief from statutory speedy trial requirements for criminal cases for a certain amount of time following a judicial emergency. This is done on a county-by-county basis.
Judges can also issue orders concerning their court's management and operations, such as access to their courts, which proceedings will be done remotely and which ones would be done in-person, and public health guidelines such as enforcing masks and social distancing.