As a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Delaware court facilities have been closed to the public since March 23, 2020, but are still operational. The Delaware Supreme Court declared a Judicial Emergency on March 14, 2020, which is currently in effect until May 14, 2020. During this time, the court is continuing to conduct necessary and urgent court matters, but has suspended all trials and is conducting hearings by video conference or telephonically to the extent possible. The court staff in the courthouses have been reduced with many court staff working remotely. Filings are being performed through electronic filing, and a courthouse drop-box is available for the public who do not have access to file electronically.
The Delaware Supreme Court has also provided for the extension of court deadlines, including statutes of limitation. In an Order dated March 22, 2020 and extended by Order dated April 14, 2020, the Supreme Court extended deadlines imposed by court rules and state and local statutes and ordinances due to expire between March 23, 2020 and May 14, 2020 are extended through June 1, 2020. These orders also extend statutes of limitation and statutes of repose that would expire between March 23, 2020 and May 14, 2020 until June 1, 2020.
It is important to note that while the Supreme Court orders extend the deadlines set by court rules and statutes, they do not extend deadlines imposed by court order. This means discovery dates imposed in a trial scheduling order are not extended by the Supreme Court orders. To extend discovery dates, a stipulation or motion would need to be presented for the judge’s consideration.
The Supreme Court orders have also suspended the requirement for sworn verifications and affidavits in filings in the courts. Alleviating the requirement of sworn verifications and affidavits relieves the need to appear in the presence of a notary public when signing the statement. Rather than a notarized statement, an unsworn declaration declaring under penalty of perjury that the declaration is true and correct signed, but not notarized, is acceptable.
Although changes have been made to provide for the safety of court personnel, attorneys, and the public and extensions of time have been granted, the court system is still functioning with new cases and filings being submitted and accepted. If you have concerns about how your case is affected by the Judicial Emergency, you should consult with your attorney.