All employees of the Richmond County Clerk of Superior, State & Juvenile Court office will work under quarantine for the next two weeks after two employees tested positive for COVID-19.
Clerk of Court Hattie Sullivan says her office will still be able to provide all essential duties during the quarantine. They tentatively plan to open June 1, 2020.
“By law I’m still handling essential matters,” said Sullivan. “As far as temporary protective orders, any emergency orders the judges may have, and we’re still doing court by zoom x and webx, we’re still doing that,” she said. “And someone is available in my office to handle any emergency situations that may come up,” added Sullivan.
The Clerk of Court office handles other public matters as well, including real estate deeds, notary public applications and traffic violations.
Chief Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. says orders they need handled quickly will still get done.
“Emergencies, things that need to be filed, many of which are being filed electronically, property matters that need to be addressed, what we call TPO’s, temporary protective orders, all of those things they’re going to accommodate,’ said Judge Brown.
If you need to obtain a temporary protective order in the case of domestic abuse, you can call Teresa Newton at (706)-831-5715 or email her at email@example.com.
For all other inquiries with the Clerk of Court, call (706)-831-5715.
Sullivan says she did not have to get approval from the state to take the steps she felt necessary to keep the public, and her employees safe.
“A Constitutional Officer has that right to make that call, but I did consult with my predecessor who is now our Chief Judge and other individuals on that protocol list, and the mayor of course, I notified him,” said Sullivan.
“We’re not completely closed, we are just kind of protecting ourselves from the public as well as my employees, giving them 14 days because that’s the protocol for positive results, and we have two at this time,” said Sullivan.
Some local attorneys worry the office’s quarantine may cause delays that could affect their clients, specifically those in jail who may may ordered to be released by a judge. “The sheriff’s office cannot release that person unless somebody from the clerk’s office gets that order and immediately gets it to the jail, so they can not have overcrowding in the jail system,” says attorney Jack Long Sr. from the Law offices of Tucker Long P.C.
Long also notes that it may be difficult for law offices to look up deeds, court records, and other information required to be on file at the Clerk of Court if it is not available electronically.
Real estate attorneys also may experience further delays trying to close deals for houses on a system that is already backed up 30 days processing deeds.
However, matters in court should still be getting handled as quick as possible under the current statewide judicial emergency issued by the Governor.
“Everything if I can say, is handled, but, it’s just in another location,” said Sullivan.