On April 3, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued another emergency order extending court deadlines. A press release regarding the order can be found here. The Court’s new order delays all court deadlines for matters scheduled to occur during the emergency period between March 23, 2020 and May 1, 2020 to May 4, 2020. Emergency proceedings, however, can take place via video conference or telephone, if the constitutional rights of the parties are not affected. Additionally, the order continues generally all other court hearing dates scheduled to occur between March 23, 2020 and May 1, 2020, until May 1, 2020 – to be rescheduled at the discretion of the presiding officer. The details of the order are as follows:

  • All jury trials are postponed until May 1, 2020.
  • Emergency proceedings required to protect the immediate health or safety of a party or community still will be held, preferably by video conferencing or telephone, and will not be delayed or extended. The Court has suspended certain rules and restrictions to allow many hearings to proceed by telephone and video conference. These emergency matters that may be held during the emergency period are those relating to:
    • Domestic violence;
    • Child abuse and neglect upon the initial removal, where there is immediate threat to the health or safety of a child, or a non-contested final disposition where family reunification is anticipated;
    • Infant guardianship;
    • Physical custody case involving an imminent threat to the health or safety of a child;
    • Juvenile detention or placement in State custody;
    • Criminal initial appearances;
    • Bond hearings;
    • Search warrants;
    • Criminal preliminary hearings;
    • Mental hygiene; and
    • Matters initiated by public health or government officials to enforce orders related to the coronavirus crisis.
  • Hearings, by telephone or video conference calls, in time-sensitive “non-emergency” proceedings which are necessary to avoid serious harm that likely would result if the matter was not resolved during the emergency period also may be held, with mutual agreement of the parties, which agreement shall not be unreasonably withheld.
  • Except those proceedings authorized to take place under the order, all other proceedings otherwise directed to take place during the emergency period of March 23, 2020 through May 1, 2020, are stayed and will be rescheduled at a date subsequent to May 1, 2020, by the presiding officer.
  • Deadlines set forth in court rules, statutes, ordinances, administrative rules, or otherwise that are set to expire during the period from March 23, 2020 to May 1, 2020 are extended to May 4, 2020. Deadlines relating to the emergency matters set forth above will not be extended or delayed.
  • Only those deadlines, statutes of limitations, and statutes of repose that are set to expire during the period from March 23, 2020 to May 1, 2020 will be extended to May 4, 2020.
  • To the extent use of technology such as video conferencing and telephonic proceedings does not impermissibly infringe upon the constitutional rights of a party or litigant, such resources should be used in the emergency matters to eliminate the need for in-person hearings or proceedings.

Interested parties can always visit our Pepper Hamilton / Troutman Sanders COVID-19 Resource Center for breaking news and developments, recommendations, free tools, and our Response Team.