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Chief Justice Paul Newby Rescinds June 7, 2021 Order

Chief Justice Paul Newby issued a new order today that rescinded the order issued on June 7, 2021. Last Friday, Governor Cooper signed into law Senate Bill 255 that codified the essential tools included in the June 7, 2021 order. These legislative changes render that order unnecessary. The rescission of Justice Newby’s June 7th order means there are currently no COVID-19 related Emergency Directives in place. This is another indicator of the state’s recovery of the pandemic.

Under Senate Bill 255, there are two provisions that are noteworthy as it relates to Landlord-Tenant and Civil litigations.

1.Sec. 8 Clarifies that landlords can file for eviction when a tenant fails to make rental payments within five business days of the day rent is due. This sections creates uniformity across the state, putting an end to the varying interpretations as to whether a landlord can file after five calendar days or five business days in North Carolina Courts.

G.S. 42-34.1(a) reads as rewritten: “(a) If the judgment in district court is against the defendant appellant, it shall be sufficient to stay execution of the judgment during the 30-day time period for taking an appeal provided for in Rule 3 of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure if the defendant appellant posts a bond as provided in G.S. 42-34(b), and no additional security under G.S. 1-292 is required. If the defendant appellant fails to make rental payments as provided in the undertaking within five business days of the day rent is due under the terms of the residential rental agreement, the clerk of superior court shall, upon application of the plaintiff appellee, immediately issue a writ of possession, and the sheriff shall dispossess the defendant appellant as provided in G.S. 42-36.2.”

2. Sec. 9 No longer a preventative health measure, this section affirms that virtual courtroom proceedings are a permissible practice moving forward. Allowing judicial officials to conduct courtroom proceedings of all types using audio and video transmission effective immediately.

(a) Article 7 of Chapter 7A of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read: “§ 7A-49.6. Proceedings conducted by audio and video transmission. (a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, judicial officials may conduct proceedings of all types using an audio and video transmission in which the parties, the presiding official, and any other participants can see and hear each other. Judicial officials conducting proceedings by audio and video transmission under this section must safeguard the constitutional rights of those persons involved in the proceeding and preserve the integrity of the judicial process. (b) Each party to a proceeding involving audio and video transmission must be able to communicate fully and confidentially with his or her attorney if the party is represented by an attorney. (c) In a civil proceeding involving a jury, the court may allow a witness to testify by audio and video transmission only upon finding in the record that good cause exists for doing so under the circumstances. (d) A party may object to conducting a civil proceeding by audio and video transmission. If the presiding official finds that the party has demonstrated good cause for the objection, the proceeding must not be held by audio and video transmission. If there is no objection, or if there is an objection and good cause is not shown, the presiding official may conduct the proceeding by audio and video transmission. (e) Except as otherwise permitted by law, when the right to confront witnesses or be present is implicated in criminal or juvenile delinquency proceedings, the court may not proceed by audio and video transmission unless the court has obtained a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of the defendant’s or juvenile respondent’s rights. (f) Proceedings conducted by audio and video transmission shall be held in a manner that complies with any applicable federal and State laws governing the confidentiality and security of confidential information. (g) If the proceeding is one that is open to the public, then the presiding official must facilitate access to the proceeding by the public and the media as nearly as practicable to the access that would be available were the proceeding conducted in person. (h) If the proceeding is required by law to be recorded, then the audio and video transmission must be recorded in accordance with G.S. 7A-95, G.S. 7A-198, and other laws, as applicable. (i) This section is not intended to limit the court’s authority to receive remote testimony pursuant to statutes that otherwise permit it, including G.S. 15A-1225.1, 15A-1225.2, 15A-1225.3, 20-139.1, 8C-1, Rule 616, 50A-111, and 52C-3-315(f). (j) All proceedings under this section shall be conducted using videoconferencing applications approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts. (k) As used herein, the term “judicial official” has the same meaning as in G.S. 15A-101(5).” (b) This section is effective when it becomes law and applies to proceedings occurring on or after that date.