Chief Justice issues emergency order regarding COVID-19
Published 4:38 pm Thursday, December 30, 2021
Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph issued an emergency order on Thursday, Dec. 30, extending the time for COVID-19 safeguards in all courts and giving individual judges’ discretion to postpone jury trials scheduled through Jan. 14, 2022.
Emergency Administrative Order 25 is the fourth emergency order issued since August which allows judges to postpone jury trials.
Judges who preside over drug intervention courts also are authorized to modify scheduling of drug testing and home supervision of participants.
The Dec. 30 order leaves in effect other safety provisions reimplemented Aug. 5, including using teleconferencing, videoconferencing and electronic filing to limit in-person contact in courts, and allowing felony plea hearings, felony sentencing hearings and probation violation hearings to be conducted remotely by way of interactive audiovisual equipment.
Chief Justice Randolph reemphasized in the most recent order that “all local and state courts—municipal, justice, county, chancery, circuit, and appellate courts—shall remain open to ensure the fulfillment of their constitutional and statutory duties.”
Randolph said in the Dec. 30 order, “Unfortunately, circumstances continue to deteriorate. In addition to the Delta variant of COVID-19, our State now faces the Omicron variant, which accounts for more than 60 % of the new reported cases, according to State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. These variants are more contagious and spreading multiple times faster than the original strains. As of December 14, 2021, there were 575 new COVID-19 confirmed infections in Mississippi. Approximately two weeks later, the number of confirmed cases increased more than eightfold, to 4,885 cases. The Mississippi Department of Health reports that number includes over 4,700 persons who were not vaccinated, representing 97 % of the new cases.”