Supreme Court announces amended orders related to in-person testimony and evictions

FRANKFORT, Ky., Aug. 28, 2020 - The Supreme Court has entered two amended administrative orders related to in-person testimony and evictions. Highlights of those orders are below.

In-Person Testimony
Administrative Order 2020-63 amends Administrative Order 2020-55, Health and Safety Requirements. The amendment clarifies that a judge may, in his or her discretion, allow a party, attorney or witness to temporarily remove his or her facial covering if it is necessary to create a clear record and if sufficient social distancing can be maintained while the facial covering is removed. This change was in response to questions from several judges who expressed concerns about muffled testimony as they prepared to conduct jury trials. 

Administrative Order 2020-64 amends Administrative Order 2020-56, Expansion of Court Services. The amendment converts the eviction proceeding set by the summons into an initial hearing and inserts a 14-day pause before the trial can be set to allow landlords and tenants sufficient time to access available rental assistance through the Healthy at Home Eviction Prevention Fund. The fund will be accessible by landlords and tenants as soon as the landlord sends the tenant the notice to vacate, which should reduce the number of eviction cases that are filed. The 14-day pause provided in this order is intended to benefit the landlords and tenants who were unaware of or could not access the Healthy at Home Eviction Prevention Fund before appearing in court for the eviction proceeding.

Supreme Court of Kentucky
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 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 of 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.