ATLANTA — Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton Friday extended the statewide judicial emergency that has been in effect since the coronavirus pandemic took hold across the state in mid-March.

Melton signed an order prohibiting jury trials not already in progress. As with previous orders, the chief justice’s 10th emergency order also urged all courts “to use technology, when practicable and lawful, to conduct remote judicial proceedings as a safer alternative to in-person proceedings.”

The order also reminded courts that any in-person proceedings “must be conducted in full compliance with public health guidance.”

Melton included a caveat that grand jury hearings and trials will not actually start until a month or longer after a process for resuming them has been put in place due to the time required to summon potential jurors.

The order also acknowledged substantial backlogs of unindicted and untried cases.

“Due to ongoing public health precautions, these proceedings will not occur at the scale or with the speed they occurred before the pandemic,” the order stated.

As a result, statutory deadlines for indictments and jury trials will remain suspended, Melton wrote.

Friday’s order extends the statewide judicial emergency until Feb. 7 at 11:59 p.m.

Rome News-Tribune Editor John Bailey contributed to this report.

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