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Mississippi Supreme Court extends COVID-19 safety order, allowing judges to delay trials until October



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(Photo by formulanone from Huntsville, United States - Mississippi State Supreme Court, CC BY-SA 2.0,
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Rising coronavirus cases in Mississippi have caused even further delays in the state court system. Earlier this month, the Mississippi Supreme Court extended a COVID-19 emergency administrative order, allowing judges to postpone trials through Oct. 8.

When the order was originally signed in August, it gave judges the ability to postpone trials through Friday, Sept. 10, to protect against the spread of COVID-19. As the delta variant continues to spread rapidly across the state, the Mississippi Supreme Court chose to continue the emergency administrative order past September and into October.

“Because there has been no discernible reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases reported daily by the Mississippi Department of Health since Emergency Administrative Order-21 was filed, in my capacity as chief administrative officer of all courts in the state, I find that Emergency Administrative Order-21 should be extended,” Chief Justice Michael Randolph wrote in a memo announcing the order extension.

In August, Mississippi saw the highest numbers of reported COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March 2020, and nearly 1,000 Mississippians died due to complications caused by COVID-19 in August. Between low vaccination rates and the raging delta variant, August was Mississippi’s darkest month of the coronavirus pandemic.

As a response to this, the Mississippi Supreme Court is not only allowing judges to delay trials until Oct. 8, but judges can also delay jury summonses until Oct. 11 and modify drug testing and home supervision until Oct. 8.

“From the onset of the national and state emergencies created by Coronavirus (COVID-19) in March 2020, the Court has issued a series of Emergency Administrative Orders to address the changing circumstances and the evolving guidance provided by health authorities…the Court has sought to properly balance individual rights, public health and safety, and the constitutional requirement that Mississippi state courts remain open and accessible,” Randolph wrote.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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