Kentucky Supreme Court orders most civil and criminal events canceled due to COVID-19

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT/WKYT) - Updated, 3/26
The Kentucky Supreme Court is extending its suspension of most in-person court proceedings by another two weeks.

There will be exceptions for some emergency cases.

The supreme court says judges can still hold necessary hearings through phone or video.

The suspension is extended to last through April 24th.

Original Story
The Supreme Court of Kentucky implemented several measures from March 16th through April 10th due to the coronavirus.

With the exception of emergency matters, domestic violence hearings and evidentiary hearings in criminal cases, all in-person appearances for civil and criminal dockets are canceled.

Judges are encouraged to use a phone or video system for all necessary hearings, including arraignments and mental health hearings.

Courtroom attendance should be limited to attorneys, parties and necessary witnesses.

Any civil trial or hearing in progress should be continued or completed at the discretion of the presiding judge.

The order also specified that reasonable attempts should be made to reschedule all criminal trials, subject to a defendant’s right to a speedy trial.

Sister station WKYT talked to Clark County Attorney William Wilkins, who said this decision came as no surprise. He added that those with hearings this month understand the impact and cases will be prioritized when courtroom doors open again.

"Most serious matters, you take them day one and lest emergency matters, maybe take them 30-60 days later," said Wilkins.

Public Advocate Damon Preston said the issues need to be fixed sooner. He and the ACLU are worried about people not convicted who do not have enough to make bail, and how tight quarters in jails may spread the virus quicker.

"Our plan is to seek release for every client who is in jail pretrial, presumed innocent," Preston said.

Federal court and criminal arraignments will be held via webcam. All paperwork will be done online.