Email

UPDATED Judiciary Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19): Updated 4/2

The Vermont Supreme Court has declared a Judicial Emergency and has adopted changes to court procedures due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID 19. Effective March 17, notwithstanding any rule or timeline inconsistent with the Emergency Order, all nonemergency Superior Court hearings, whether evidentiary or non-evidentiary, will be postponed. The Order cites specific exceptions for high-priority cases that must be heard. All Judicial Bureau hearings are postponed. The Emergency will go into effect immediately and will extend until April 15, 2020, unless extended by order of the Court. Please read the Emergency Order HERE, as it covers many topics in detail that are not identified in this summary. his Order supercedes all prior related orders. 3/18/20: The Order also has been AMENDED with respect to non-emergency hearing procedures. Click HERE for the amendment. 3/23: Please also click the heading for new updates, including the temporary suspension of the Newfane Court,  Chittenden, Franklin/GI , Rutland, Washington and Windsor County specific Orders and a summary from the Court. 3/25 UPDATE: the Order has been further amended with respect to building access, committee meetings and modification to MCLE rules for the 2018-2020 licensing period, including removing the cap on non-live, self-study courses. This amendment is HERE.  3/26 UPDATE: Amendment #4: Further revisions to building access and legal considerations regarding balancing open courts with need for social distancing HERE.

Chittenden, Franklin/GI, Rutland, Washington, Windham and Windsor County have issued emergency orders on March 30-31, 2020 relating to discovery, foreclosure sales and writs of possession in civil cases only in those counties: Chittenden Order, Franklin/Grand Isle Order, Rutland Order  Washington Order Windham Order and Windsor Order.

Also From the Court, 3/23:

Dear Colleagues:

Things are moving fast, so I thought it might be helpful to summarize for people the status of emergency measures the Supreme Court has taken in the past week or so.

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Supreme Court issued:

  1. On March 13, Administrative Directive 36 regarding the postponement of jury draws.  This Administrative Directive was superseded by Administrative Order 49, described at #2 below. 
  1. Administrative Order 49 https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/sites/default/files/documents/AO%2049_0.pdf

Effective March 17, notwithstanding any rule or timeline inconsistent with Emergency Order 49, all nonemergency Superior Court hearings, whether evidentiary or non-evidentiary, will be postponed.  The Order cites specific exceptions for high-priority cases that must be heard.  All Judicial Bureau hearings are postponed.  The Emergency went into effect on March 17 and will extend until April 15, 2020, unless extended by further order of the Court.

From March 17, 2020, until March 30, 2020, no person will be permitted to enter a courthouse except for the purposes outlined in the Order; and, then, only if they pass screening questions related to the COVID 19 Coronavirus Pandemic.

  1. March 18 Amendment to Administrative Order 49 https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/sites/default/files/documents/AO%2049%20amendment.pdf

This amendment provides that nonemergency matters, although generally suspended, may proceed if the parties participate remotely and are not in the courthouse, subject to the discretion of the Superior Judge and the Court Administrator, and that the Supreme Court may hold oral arguments for summary or full-Court proceedings by telephone or consider the case without oral argument in its discretion.

  1. Administrative Order 49, adopted on Friday afternoon, March 20.   https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/sites/default/files/documents/Covid%20-%20AO%2049%20amendment%203-20-20%20FINAL.pdf

Pursuant to this amendment, litigants sending filings to courts by email can sign documents with the filer’s name typed in and a “/s/,” or an electronic or scanned signature, or other form that satisfies the definition in 9 V.S.A. § 271(9).  This does not apply to documents that must be notarized by statute.                                            

The judicial emergency amounts to “good cause,” which authorizes people to participate in mediation by telephone or video.

Judicial employees must work only in their assigned building during business hours, except for authorized supervisors, or remotely in accordance with the Judiciary’s teleworking guidelines.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about Supreme Court Administrative Order 49, as amended.  Please read the actual Order, as amended, carefully because it covers many topics not covered in detail in this summary.

Thank you to everyone for your continuing commitment to access to justice and to the health and safety of your colleagues and of those who continue to be present in the courthouses and administrative offices of the Vermont Judiciary.

--

NEWFANE COURTHOUSE TEMPORARY SUSPENSION:

Please also note that we need to temporarily suspend operations at Newfane courthouse because we currently have only one staff person to cover that court, and it is not feasible to continue operations.

This temporary change will enable the remaining staff person to work out of the Brattleboro courthouse and support the Windham unit’s operations, including civil cases normally heard in Newfane.  As you may know, a mere couple of weeks ago, we rolled out the Judiciary’s new electronic case management system in Windham, Windsor, and Orange counties.  With electronic files accessible from any location now replacing paper files, the civil docket clerk can easily work remotely from Brattleboro and process any civil cases usually heard in Newfane.

All telephone calls will continue to be answered by the Judiciary’s Information Center and relayed to the Brattleboro court, and mail will be forwarded to the Brattleboro court, as well.  

We have consulted with both  Assistant Judges, and both are in agreement with the suspension of operations during the pandemic.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding this temporary measure.

Thank you.

Patricia Gabel, Esq., State Court Administrator