The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ordered that courts remain closed through June 1 due to COVID-19, a decision that goes beyond the May 18 date set Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Baker.
The trial courts had been expected to return to regular activity on May 4. By corresponding order of Judge Paul C. Dawley, Chief Justice of District Courts, hearings and pretrial matters in district courts can take place, as needed, virtually, with priority given to emergency matters.
In a statement to The Times, Edgartown District Court clerk magistrate Liza Williamson made it clear those who needed restraining orders, can get them.
“During the last few weeks, there have been emergency restraining orders sought and granted by the court, working with the local police departments,” she wrote. “These are difficult times when people may be stuck at home with their abusers, and I want the community to know that while we are physically closed, we are available remotely. Hearings on such orders have been held remotely, via teleconference. It is still possible to make a plan for safety or a strategy in order to be removed from an abusive situation. Restraining orders can be sought through local police departments who will contact the court, or through calling the Trial Court Help Line at 833-91COURT.”
Dukes County Superior Court Clerk George Davis told The Times the superior court is prioritizing “emergency business” but court documents can still be filed electronically and some matters have proceeded via video conference.
A staffer for Dukes County Registrar of Probate Daphne Devries said while the courthouse is closed, urgent probate matters are being addressed as needed.