Supreme Court issues new amendments March 17 to order restricting court proceedings during pandemic

FRANKFORT, Ky., March 17, 2020 — In an effort to minimize social interaction in Kentucky’s busy courthouses and judicial centers during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Supreme Court of Kentucky has placed restrictions on dockets, jury trials and jury service from March 16-April 10.

The Supreme Court approved additional amendments today to its administrative order. The new amendments included in Supreme Court Administrative Order 2020-10, dated March 17, 2020, are:

1. Section 1 is amended to clarify that judges MUST use available telephonic and video technology for all necessary hearings, including but not limited to, arraignments and mental-health hearings.
2. Section 5 is amended to clarify that domestic violence advocates may attend court proceedings, but that no more than 20 people may be in the courtroom at any time unless the judge in his or her discretion deems it necessary and makes every effort to enforce appropriate distances between individuals.
3. Section 11 is amended to clarify that new juror orientations are suspended unless an exception is granted by the Chief Justice.
4. A new section, Section 13, has been added to clarify rules relating to grand juries: “The circuit court is authorized to extend the 60-day period in RCr 5.22(3) for a period not to exceed 45 days for good cause shown. The Commonwealth’s Attorney shall request an extension by separate motion as to each defendant and shall give prompt notice of the motion to defense counsel. The circuit court shall allow both the Commonwealth’s Attorney and defense counsel to be heard prior to entering any order extending the period in RCr 5.22(3).”
5. The final paragraph is amended to clarify that a courthouse may not be closed without prior authorization from the Chief Justice.  

You can find ongoing court updates on the COVID-19 and the Courts webpage.

About the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is the state court of last resort and the final interpreter of Kentucky law. Seven justices sit on the Supreme Court and all seven justices rule on appeals that come before the court. The justices are elected from seven appellate districts and serve eight-year terms. A chief justice, chosen for a four-year term by fellow justices, is the administrative head of the state’s court system and is responsible for its operation. The Supreme Court may order a ruling or opinion to be published, which means that the ruling becomes the case law governing all similar cases in the future in Kentucky.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of nearly 3,400 court system employees and 406 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.