Kentucky Tightens Access To The Courthouse Due To COVID-19

In an Amended Order Wednesday, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued new restrictions on the judicial system due to the COVID-19 crisis.  The restrictions are effective through May 1, 2020, although they would seem likely to be extended beyond that date.  Among the restrictions:

  • Except for “emergency or time-sensitive matters,” including certain domestic, criminal and juvenile matters, all civil and criminal dockets “shall be cancelled.”  Presiding judges retain discretion to attend to matters where “prompt attention” is necessary.
  • All participants to any proceeding that do go forward must be allowed to participate remotely using available telephonic and video technology.
  • In “limited circumstances” where an in-person hearing is required, attendance is limited generally to 10 people.
  • All judicial facilities are closed to in-person services, except in cases of emergency.
  • Driver’s license services are suspended, and expiration dates for driver’s licenses are extended for 90 days.
  • All civil jury trial are postponed.
  • Judges may conduct telephonic or video hearings in civil matters if the judge determines that “the matter merits prompt attention.”
  • Reasonable attempts should be made to reschedule criminal trials, which are otherwise subject to “speedy trial” requirements.
  • Small claims, eviction, juvenile, probate, traffic, and guardianship cases are generally continued.  Eviction filings are on hold for 30 days following expiration of the Order.

As a practical matter, absent an emergency, litigants and those in need of services at the courthouse in Kentucky appear to be sidelined until at least May 30.