March 17, 2020

COVID-19: Delaware Supreme Court Declares Judicial Emergency

It’s hard to find a single aspect of daily life that hasn’t been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This recent blog from Francis Pileggi reports that this includes the operations of the Delaware courts:

By Delaware Supreme Court Order, effective March 16, 2020, Delaware’s high court declared a judicial emergency, following the Governor of Delaware declaring on Friday, March 13, a state of emergency due to the coronavirus, and also on the same day that President Trump proclaimed a National Emergency. The foregoing hyperlink provides the actual Court Order. One provision makes it easier for trial courts, in their discretion, to postpone trials and hearings at least for 30 days. This also follows Orders highlighted on these pages a few days ago in which each of the Delaware Courts announced policies to help those with symptoms of the virus address obligations to appear for court hearings, etc.

This blog from Fox Rothschild’s Carl Neff reports that yesterday, the Chancery Court issued a new standing order providing that for the next 30 days, all hearings and trials will be conducted only telephonically, absent a request from a party for an in-person hearing & a demonstration of “imminent irreparable harm.”

So far, perhaps the most high-profile consequence of the actions taken by the Delaware courts over the past week has been Vice Chancellor Slights’ decision to delay the Tesla/Solar City trial. That decision was prompted by concerns about the anticipated size of the crowd at the proceedings.

John Jenkins