Effective immediately, all jury trials and court proceedings scheduled to be held in Toccoa/Stephens County are continued until further notice, with the exception of any proceeding that involve liberty, safety and health.
Cases involving domestic abuse temporary protective orders and restraining orders, criminal court search warrants, arrest warrants, initial appearances, bond reviews, juvenile court delinquency detention hearings and emergency removal matters, as well as metal health commitment hearings, will proceed as scheduled, Stephens County Clerk of Courts Tim Quick said in a press briefing this morning.
Pursuant to the statewide judicial emergency issued March 14 by Judge Harold Milton, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, an order was issued this morning, March 16, by Superior Court Chief Judge Russell Smith and Superior Court Judge Chan Caudell, calling for all scheduled court proceedings throughout the three-county Mountain Judicial District to be postponed until further notice. The Mountain Judicial District includes Stephens, Rabun and Habersham counties.
The January Term of the Stephens County Grand Jury ends at the end of June, and the jurors are not expected to be recalled unless there is an emergency. However, the tour of the jail and the 911 center that was scheduled for the Grand Jurors at the end of March has been cancelled, Quick said.
“As far as jury trials, those are definitely cancelled for March 30 and I will not be sending out any more jury notices until further notice,” he added.
All non-trial and non-hearing activities of the clerks office and the court system will continue as normal and the Clerk’s office will remain open.
“We are open, so there is no reason not to file like you normally do,” Quick advised, offering a reminder that the Clerk’s office utilizes an e-filing system that will continue to function as normal amidst the precautions against COVID-19.
“People can still go online and pay tickets; you can still come in and pay tickets, the only thing that will experience a disruption is court proceedings,” he said. “We are still operating as normal, we are still processing paperwork, still taking in civil matters, still taking in criminal cases; still open to the public. If anyone wants to do anything with the legal system, everything is functioning as normal except for hearings and court dates.
Quick advised anyone with questions regarding an existing case or filing a new case to call 706-886-3598.
At the City of Toccoa, also, court proceedings have been temporarily suspended.
“We will be suspending all court hearings until further notice, effective immediately,” City Clerk Fredda Wheeler told ConnectLocal in a noon interview today. “Anyone already scheduled for court will be notified in writing that those dates have been cancelled, and we will notify them of the new court date.”
Quick said that it that the notice issued by Milton expires in 30 days, but may be extended. He said that individuals whose court dates have been cancelled will need to wait until the State Superior Court lifts the Judicial Emergency and reinstates normal court procedures before consideration can be given to rescheduling court dates.