Operating Procedures


Operating Procedures for the Delaware Judicial Branch


  1. Introduction

These operating procedures are intended to provide a general understanding to the public, the practicing bar, and the Judicial Branch's own staff of the administrative procedures followed by the Judicial Branch. These operating procedures are subordinate to the Judicial Branch's duty to comply with the Constitution, statutes, Court-specific rules, and its overarching commitment to do justice in the diverse procedural circumstances in which cases arise. When the need to do justice requires, the Judicial Branch may deviate from these procedures, but these operating procedures are intended to represent how the Judicial Branch operates in the ordinary course.

Consistent with their purpose, these operating procedures are not intended to cover the key procedures that litigants must follow in cases. Those are incorporated in relevant constitutional and statutory provisions and Court-specific rules of procedure. Rather, these operating procedures supplement those constitutional and statutory provisions that address the administration of the Judicial Branch and provide the administrative guidelines that govern the Judicial Branch.

  1. Definitions
  1. Words used in the singular include the plural and the plural includes the singular.
  2. Words importing the feminine gender include the masculine as well, except as otherwise clearly indicated by the context.
  3. "Courts" means the Supreme Court; the Court of Chancery; the Superior Court; the Court of Common Pleas; the Family Court; and the Justice of the Peace Court.
  4. "Court Administrators" means the Administrator of the Supreme Court; the Administrator of the Court of Chancery; the Administrator of the Superior Court; the Administrator of the Court of Common Pleas; the Administrator of the Family Court; and the Administrator of the Justice of the Peace Court.
  5. "Employee" means full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, and contractual non-judicial personnel, whether paid or unpaid.
  6. "Judicial Agency" includes the Administrative Office of the Courts, including the Judicial Information Center and the Office of State Court Collections Enforcement; the Arms of the Supreme Court; the Law Libraries; the Office of the Public Guardian; the Child Placement Review Board; the Office of the Child Advocate; the Child Death, Near Death, and Stillbirth Commission; and the Delaware Nursing Home Residents Quality Assurance Commission.
  7. "Judicial Branch" means the Supreme Court, including the Arms of the Court; the Court of Chancery; the Superior Court; the Court of Common Pleas; the Family Court; the Justice of the Peace Court; the Administrative Office of the Courts and other Judicial Agencies.
  8. "Judicial Officer" means a Judge; Master; Commissioner; or Justice of the Peace.
  9. "Presiding Judge" shall mean collectively the Chancellor of the Court of Chancery; the President Judge of the Superior Court; the Chief Judge of the Court of Common Pleas; the Chief Judge of the Family Court; and the Chief Magistrate of the Justice of the Peace Court. When used individually, the context will indicate the relevant Court.
  10. "State Court Administrator" means the Administrative Office of the Courts' State Court Administrator.
  1. Administration
  1. Administrative Authority:

    1. Chief Justice: The Chief Justice is the administrative head of the Judicial Branch of the State of Delaware with general administrative and supervisory powers over the Courts.Del. Const. art. IV, § 13. The Chief Justice, or a designee, shall be the official spokesperson for the Judicial Branch with the other branches of government.
    2. Administration of the Supreme Court: Rules pertaining to the administration of justice or the conduct of the business of the Courts may be adopted by the Chief Justice, upon the approval of a majority of the Justices of the Supreme Court. Del. Const. art. IV, § 13(1).
    3. Other Courts' Procedural Rules: Other Courts may adopt rules of pleading practice or procedure in their courts, subject to the approval of a majority of the Justices of the Supreme Court. Del. Const. art. IV, § 13(1).
    4. Other Courts' Administrative Directives or Orders: Other Courts may implement administrative directives or orders consistent with the provisions of the Operating Procedures for the Delaware Judicial Branch and law.
  2. Judicial Conference:

    1. Composition: The Judicial Conference shall be composed of the judges of the Supreme Court, the Court of Chancery, the Superior Court, the Family Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Chief Magistrate of the Justice of the Peace Court. When a meeting of the Judicial Conference is called, the Chief Justice may require attendance of other judicial officers, including Commissioners, Masters and Justices of the Peace. The Chief Justice or, in the event of the Chief Justice's absence, incapacity, or a vacancy in the office of the Chief Justice, the next senior justice who is qualified and available to act shall be the presiding officer of the Conference.
    2. Purpose: The purpose of the Judicial Conference is to address issues at the request of the Chief Justice or of the Supreme Court, including judicial education or matters pertaining to the improvement of the administration of justice.
    3. Meetings: The Judicial Conference shall meet as determined by the Chief Justice to be appropriate. Members shall attend meetings, unless excused by the Chief Justice.
  3. Committee of Presiding Judges:

    1. Composition of the Committee: The Committee of Presiding Judges shall be composed of the Presiding Judge of each Court. The Chief Justice may invite other Judicial Officers or judicial staff, to participate in the Committee, as is deemed helpful to the Committee.
    2. Purpose: The purpose of the Committee of Presiding Judges is to help the Chief Justice address issues of importance to the Judiciary and in the development of branch-wide policies, including policies related to technology, budget, personnel, security, and facilities.
    3. Meetings: Meetings shall be called on an as-needed basis. An agenda shall be circulated before the meeting at the discretion of the Chief Justice.
    4. Council of Court Administrators:
      1. Composition: The Council of Court Administrators shall consist of the Court Administrator from each Court and the State Court Administrator. The State Court Administrator shall be the Chair of the Council. The State Court Administrator may invite others to participate in the Council, as is deemed helpful to the Council.
      2. Purpose: The purpose of the Council is to provide staff assistance and advice to the Committee of Presiding Judges and to address issues of importance to the Judiciary, at the request of the Chief Justice or the State Court Administrator, including branch-wide administrative policies.
      3. Meetings: The Council shall meet at the discretion of the Chair. Members of the Council shall attend each meeting, except that if the personal attendance of a member is not feasible, a designee may be substituted.
  4. Committees, Boards and Task Forces:

    The Chief Justice may establish committees, boards, or task forces on an as-needed basis to discuss issues of concern to the Judiciary, the Justice system, or the administration of justice. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall provide administrative support upon request. A current list, with web addresses that provide information about the purpose and function of each, is attached as Addendum 1.
  1. Administrative Office of the Courts
  1. Purpose:

    The Administrative Office of the Courts assists the Chief Justice in the administration of the Judicial Branch Its responsibilities may include the following functions:
    1. Policy Development: Help develop and implement administrative policies.
    2. Judicial Budget: Help prepare, review, and submit the judicial budget and provide additional information related to budget issues to the Chief Justice.
    3. Personnel System: Prepare and administer system-wide policies, standards, and procedures for the management of the judicial personnel system.
    4. Fiscal System: Prepare and administer system-wide policies, standards, and procedures for the management of the judicial fiscal system.
    5. Technology: Design and implement the policies, standards, and procedures for the development and management of the automated judicial information and record keeping systems Provide technological and management expertise and assistance to the Judicial Branch.
    6. Records Management: Prepare and administer system-wide policies, standards, and procedures for the management of the judicial records management program.
    7. Case Flow: Help develop, coordinate, and monitor system-wide case flow and clearance standards.
    8. External Public Relations: Serve as a liaison for the Judicial Branch with the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, local government, the Bar, the media and the general public.
    9. Program Development: Conduct system-wide planning, research, program development and evaluation, and statistical collection and analysis functions.
    10. Continuing Education: Administer the Judicial Branch's continuing education programs for Judicial Officers, Administrators, and other Court personnel.
    11. Facilities and Security: Coordinate statewide facilities issues, including new construction, minor capital improvements, security, and coordinate Judicial Branch efforts on these issues with the Executive Branch.
    12. Staff Support: Provide staffing assistance for committees, boards or task forces, as assigned by the Chief Justice.
    13. Other: Perform other functions as assigned by the Chief Justice.
  2. Amendments to Adopted Policies and Procedures:

    The State Court Administrator is directed, with the approval of the Chief Justice, to implement minor changes to established Judicial Branch policies and procedures on an as-needed basis Revised policies will be circulated by the Administrative Office of the Courts to the Committee of Presiding Judges and the Council of Court Administrators, and posted online.
  1. Budget and Management
  1. Policies and Procedures:

    The Chief Justice shall establish policies and procedures related to budget and management of the Judicial Branch. The policy prepared by the State of Delaware's Office of Management and Budget entitled Budget and Accounting Policy shall serve as a general reference in the establishment of the Judicial Branch's internal budget and fiscal policies and procedures. In general, the Judicial Branch will endeavor to be consistent with the policies of the Office of Management and Budget but reserves the right to develop specific Branch policies to address particular issues when that is advisable for the Judicial Branch.
  2. Budget:

    1. Annual Budget Process:
      1. The Courts and Judicial Agencies shall submit their budget requests to the Administrative Office of the Courts, which shall compile the information and prepare a proposed budget for the Chief Justice's review.
      2. The Chief Justice may consult with the Committee of Presiding Judges and the Administrative Office of the Courts, and may seek input from Council of Court Administrators and others, before determining the budget requests to be submitted by the Judicial Branch to the Executive and Legislative Branches of government.
      3. Under the direction of the Chief Justice, the Administrative Office of the Courts will take the lead in ensuring that the Budget complies with the fiscal requirements and deadlines established by the Executive and Legislative Branches for the efficient management of the State of Delaware's overall budget and financial management, where appropriate.
    2. Request for New Judicial Officer Positions: The Chief Justice shall determine, based upon what is in the best interest of the Judiciary as a whole, whether a request to create new Judicial Officer positions should be made to the Governor and the General Assembly through the budget process. Presiding Judges who wish to request new Judicial Officers for their Court shall follow the policies and procedures as specified in the Policy and Procedure for Determining Need for Additional Judgeships and Other Judicial Officer Positions, attached as Appendix A.The request shall be submitted to the Chief Justice by August 1 of the year before the fiscal year in which a Presiding Judge intends to request additional positions, or another date established by the Chief Justice.The Chief Justice may seek additional information concerning the need for judicial resources from the Presiding Judge requesting the judicial resources.
    3. Hiring Procedures in Times of Economic Hardship: In times of economic hardship, it is likely that special factors will control hiring procedures. The Chief Justice may impose a special hiring review process, which may include a measure requiring the approval of the Chief Justice before Judicial Branch positions, such as new hires, promotions, paid interns, casual/seasonal, temporary, limited-term, merit and exempt positions, may be filled.The Chief Justice may exempt certain types of positions (for example, career ladder promotions and security positions) from this process.
      1. The special hiring review process may, among other things, require that:
        1. The Presiding Judge or head of the Judicial Agency seeking to fill the position certify that:
          1. the position is necessary to perform the core operations of the Court or Judicial Agency, or the direct delivery of services to the public, including case processing;
          2. the position provides other valuable operational support that will have a significant longer-term impact on overall operations, if the position is not filled; and
          3. appropriate funds are believed to be available in the respective Court or Judicial Agency budget to compensate the person to be hired.
        2. The Presiding Judge or head of a Judicial Agency will provide to the State Court Administrator, no later than the first day of each month, a current listing of vacant positions, along with a form providing justification for each position that they are requesting to be filled that month.Requests to address urgent or emergency needs to fill positions may be submitted during other times of the month.
  3. Fiscal Procedures:

    1. Non-Appropriated Funds: The Courts shall adhere to the Judicial Branch Fiscal Policies and Procedures, attached as Appendix B, that govern the management of non-appropriated funds as supported by the current case management system and as revised from time to time by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
    2. Pro Hac Vice Assessments: Pro hac vice assessments shall be distributed to fund the Arms of the Supreme Court or as otherwise ordered by the Supreme Court for the purpose of the governance of the Bar or the administration of justice.
  4. Grant Funding:

    Grant opportunities shall be evaluated within the framework of the Judicial Branch's long-term goals and priorities, and incorporated into the overall budget process. The Judicial Branch shall generally apply for grant funding for limited term, one-time items. The monetary amount of grant funding being sought by the Judicial Branch should generally exceed $100,000 over the term of the grant to support efficiencies in resource costs associated with managing the grant. But grant funds of lesser amounts may be sought if the purpose of applying for the grants is limited in scope and focused on a particular topic or area. Grant funding should not be sought to fund items that will require additional operating budget funds or positions to continue operations, once the grant funding runs out. The Chief Justice, in concert with the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Court or Judicial Agency applying for a grant, shall determine the manner in which the application will be submitted to ensure that relevant partners have been included in the grant application process. The Chief Justice may order the withdrawal of any grant application at any time if the Chief Justice determines that the application is not in the best interests of the Judiciary.
    1. Application Process: A Court or Judicial Agency applying for State or Federal grant funds shall, at least thirty (30) days before filing the State or Federal grant application, submit to the State Court Administrator a Judicial Branch Grant Request Form, attached asAppendix C, with a copy of the State or Federal grant application.
    2. Review of Application: The State Court Administrator shall review the Judicial Branch Grant Request Form and make a recommendation to the Chief Justice as to whether the State or Federal grant application should be approved for submission based on the merits of the application, including the grant request's consistency with the goals of the Judicial Branch, and any potential impact on:
      1. current Judiciary resources and workload;
      2. future Court budgets; and
      3. future position requests that might be associated with the acceptance of funds from sources outside of the annual State budget process.
    3. Expedited Procedure: Recognizing that in limited instances there are exigent circumstances in which grant applications must be submitted with limited time for internal review, a Court or Judicial Agency may submit a grant application request to the State Court Administrator less than 30 days before the grant application deadline. But, under those circumstances, it may not be possible for the internal review process to occur within the allotted time frame and the grant application may not be filed without the Chief Justice's advance approval to file the application.
    4. Copies of Filings: Copies of all State or Federal grant applications filed by Courts or Judicial Agencies must be provided to the State Court Administrator.
    5. Grant Award Notification: Any Court or Judicial Agency that applies for a State or Federal grant should notify the State Court Administrator as to whether it has received notice of a grant award no later than ten (10) working days from the date of the Court or Judicial Agency's receipt of the grant award notification.
  1. Case Management and Litigation
  1. Publication of Opinions:

    Opinions may be published in the Atlantic Reporter at the discretion of the judicial author but, in exercising that discretion, it should be recognized that published opinions should be of general interest and importance to the bench and bar, including opinions that:
    1. address issues of first impression;
    2. establish, alter, or explain (for the first time) a rule of law;
    3. review the law in this or other jurisdictions (for the first time or for the first time in recent years);
    4. provide a scholarly critique of existing law;
    5. involve unique, but important, factual situations or holdings; or
    6. involve newsworthy cases.
    7. may affect a proceeding in another jurisdiction.
    Published opinions should also provide enough factual and procedural background to allow a reader unfamiliar with the case to understand the issues presented. The opinions should be as short as possible, given the nature of the case, and they should be carefully edited to eliminate repetition, grammatical, and typographical errors.
  2. Assignment Judges of Trial Courts:

    The Presiding Judge for each Court is designated as Assignment Judge of that Court with the authority to assign and designate the several judges who shall hold Court in the several counties of the State for any designated period of time or for the hearing of one or more designated causes.
  3. Administration of Litigation:

    The policies set forth in Appendix D shall guide the administration of the following: Action Docket Standards, attached as Appendix D-1; Policy on Speedy Trial Guidelines - Administration of criminal litigation, attached as Appendix D-2; Policy on Speedy Trial Guidelines - Administration in capital murder cases, attached as Appendix D-3; and Policy on Judicial Reporting on Matters Under Advisement - Cases under advisement, attached as Appendix D-4.
  4. Statistical Standard:

    The Administrative Office of the Courts, in collaboration with the Courts, shall establish statistical standards consistent with national standards or best practices.
  5. Judicial Guidelines for Self-Represented Litigants:

    Judicial Officers shall refer to Delaware's Judicial Guidelines for Civil Hearings Involving Self-Represented Litigants, attached as Appendix E, in their efforts to balance self-represented litigants' perception of procedural fairness while maintaining neutrality in the courtroom, particularly when one party is self-represented and one has an attorney. These guidelines are not intended to alter judges' obligations under the Code of Judicial Conduct or create additional standards under which judges may be disciplined.
  6. Court Interpreters:

    1. Certification Program: A Court interpreter must complete the Administrative Office of the Courts' accreditation program to be certified and included in the list of qualified Court interpreters.
    2. List of Qualified Interpreters: The Administrative Office of the Courts shall maintain a list of qualified Court interpreters for use by the Courts based upon the following criteria: certification status, criminal history background evaluation, and other background information, including feedback from Courts or others who have utilized the interpreter's services. This list shall include sign language interpreters who have registered with the Delaware Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
    3. Requesting Interpretative Services: Courts needing the services of a language interpreter should refer to the policies and procedures of the Delaware Judiciary Language Access Plan, attached as Appendix F.
    4. Advisory Board on Court Interpreters: The Court Interpreter Program will be overseen by the Advisory Board on Court Interpreters.
    5. Policies and Procedures: Court interpreters shall adhere to the Court Interpreter Program Policy Directive and the Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters in the Delaware Judiciary, attached as Appendix G. Court Interpreters shall swear under oath that they will comply with the provisions set forth in the Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters in the Delaware Judiciary.
  7. Court-Appointed Attorneys and Ancillary Services in Family Court Civil Cases:

    Court-appointed attorneys appointed by Family Court in civil cases shall be reimbursed in accordance with the Policies and Procedures for Appointment and Payment of Counsel in Family Court Civil Cases, attached as Appendix H.
  1. Media Coverage, Public Access and Records Management
  1. Media Coverage:

    1. Definition: A "Media Representative" shall have bona fide credentials or identification issued by a bona fide media organization whose news reports are made available to the general public on a regular basis.
    2. Policies:
      1. The Presiding Judge for each Court may establish guidelines for a Judicial Officer presiding over a case to authorize, at his discretion, photographic and electronic media coverage of non-jury, non-confidential civil proceedings under Rule 2.10 (C) of the Delaware Judges Code of Judicial Conduct.
      2. Video and audio recordings of Supreme Court non-confidential oral arguments are posted on the official website of the Delaware Judiciary in the time frame determined by the Supreme Court, generally two days after the oral arguments have concluded, and are available for one year thereafter.
  2. Public Access to Court Administrative and Case Records:

    Although the Judicial Branch, a separate, coequal Branch of government under our State Constitution, is exempt from the requirement of the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, 29 Del. C. Chapter 100, the Judicial Branch supports the presumption of open public access to Court records, a presumption that can be out-weighed by other public policy concerns including security or confidentiality. The Judicial Branch has adopted formal public access policies or procedures covering the release of administrative and case records based on the Template Policy on Public Access to Judicial Branch Administrative Records, attached as Appendix I. Judicial Branch policies are included and shall be posted online for the general public:
    1. Administrative Office of the Courts Policy Statement 18, Delaware Administrative Office of the Courts Policy on Public Access to Administrative Records, attached as Appendix I-1;
    2. Policy on Public Access to Supreme Court Administrative Records, attached as Appendix I-2;
    3. Policy on Public Access to Records in the Delaware Court of Chancery, attached as Appendix I-3;
    4. Administrative Directive of the President Judge of the Superior Court of the State of Delaware (No. 2000-5) Policy on Public Access to Superior Court Judicial Records, attached as Appendix I-4;
    5. The Family Court of the State of Delaware Public Access Policy (May 8, 2007), attached as Appendix I-5;
    6. Administrative Directive of the Chief Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the State of Delaware (No. 2001-1) Policy on Public Access to the Court of Common Pleas Judicial Records, attached as Appendix I-6;
    7. Justice of the Peace Court Policy Directive 14-250 (October 21, 2014) Public Access to Court Records, attached as Appendix I-7.
  3. Online Judicial Opinions and Case Records:

    1. Public Records: Judicial opinions and case records posted on the Judicial Branch's website or available through Court Connect are public records. The Judicial Branch will not impede online search engines from indexing or publishing opinions, except in limited circumstances warranting such exceptions.
    2. Exceptions: In limited circumstances, including a serious threat to an individual's safety or significant negative implications relating to an individual's ability to transact business or obtain or retain employment or housing, an individual may request that access to an opinion or Court record be restricted.
      1. An individual requesting restricted access to records shall send her application to the Court that published the opinion or maintains the record and shall include the following information:
        1. name of the applicant (the applicant has to be the person whose name is referenced in the case(s)) or the legal representative of that person;
        2. case name(s);
        3. case number(s);
        4. Court from which the case(s) were issued; and reason(s) why the applicant is asking for restricted access to the opinion or case record.
      2. The Court that published the opinion and maintains the record shall determine whether online access to the record or opinion should be restricted.
      3. The administrative or computer costs associated with implementing the actions may be assessed to the applicant. If costs will be assessed in a particular situation, the applicant will be provided an estimate, and must agree to pay the costs, in advance of the performance of the work.
      4. The Judicial Branch is not responsible if opinions or Court records continue to be available online from other websites through non-state search engines once the Judicial Branch has removed the information from its website.
  1. Personnel
  1. Policies and Procedures:

    The Judicial Branch shall adhere to the policies and procedures that govern employees and Judicial Officers, as applicable, and as revised from time to time by the Administrative Office of the Courts, including:
    1. The Judicial Branch Personnel Rules, attached as Appendix J, and all other provisions that apply;
    2. The Code of Conduct for Judicial Branch Employees, attached as Appendix K;
    3. The Policies and Procedures for the Management of Casual/Seasonal and Contractual Employees Under the Affordable Care Act, attached as Appendix L;
    4. The Code of Conduct for Law Clerks, attached as Appendix M; and
    5. The Delaware's Judges' Code of Judicial Conduct, attached as Appendix N.
    In addition, employees shall adhere to policies and procedures promulgated by their specific Court or Judicial Agency.
  2. Communications and Computer Systems Policy:

    To ensure the security of the computer network and the integrity of data stored on State Systems, Judicial Branch employees shall adhere to the Judicial Branch Authorized Use Policy for the Communications and Computer Systems, attached as Appendix O.
  3. Floating Holidays:

    The Delaware Judicial Branch Floating Holiday Policy, attached as Appendix P, establishes, subject to certain restrictions, two floating holidays for benefit-eligible employees that must be taken within the calendar year.
  4. Tobacco-Free Workplace:

    The Judicial Branch is a tobacco-free workplace. The Judicial Branch Tobacco-Free Workplace Policy is attached as Appendix Q.
  5. Effect of Domestic Violence on the Workplace:

    The Judicial Branch Domestic Violence Policy, attached as Appendix R, addresses domestic violence and its effects on the workplace. Courts and Judicial Agencies may, with the approval of the Chief Justice, adopt more rigorous provisions that may apply to that Court or Judicial Agency.
  6. Judicial Education:

    1. Mandatory Continuing Legal Education: Judicial Officers and Members of the Bar shall adhere to the Delaware Rules for Continuing Legal Education, attached as Appendix S.
    2. Judicial Education Committee: A Judicial Education Committee composed of representatives from the Courts shall meet to discuss topics appropriate for judicial education. The Committee shall be chaired by the Chief Justice or a designee. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall provide administrative support as needed.
  7. Judicial Branch Employee Training:

    The Administrative Office of the Courts will provide Judicial Branch employees with training opportunities, including the ability to learn new skills or reinforce current skills, especially in the areas of technology and case processing.
  8. Policy Distribution:

    Judicial Branch employees shall familiarize themselves with relevant policies and procedures upon assumption of their duties. New Judicial Branch employees shall be supplied with a copy of all applicable Judicial Branch policies and procedures by their appointing authority, who shall ensure that copies of these operating procedures, and all relevant policies and procedures, are distributed to every employee.
  1. Facilities
  1. Security Committees:

    The Chief Justice may establish specialized Security Committees pertaining to individual courthouse security or on a geographic or Court-wide basis. These Committees shall focus on specific security issues, including but not limited to, emergency preparedness; disaster recovery/continuity of operation plans; security classification for personnel and card access; and evacuation planning.
  2. Courthouse Operations Policy Committee (COPC):

    Under the Chief Justice's administrative authority, COPCs may be established for facilities housing multiple Courts to promulgate operating policies on issues common to the management and usage of the facility.
  1. Emergency Closures and Pre-Holiday Staffing
  1. Emergency Closures of Judicial Branch Facilities:

    1. General Policy: The Judicial Branch will act consistently with the Governor's actions regarding emergency and weather closures of State offices. If the Governor announces that State offices throughout Delaware will be closed or that there will be a delay in opening of State facilities, then the Judicial Branch will also be closed or delay opening their facilities during that same time period. Similarly, if the Governor announces that State of Delaware offices in one county are closed or will experience delay in opening, then the Judicial Branch in that county will also be closed or open with the same delay, and Judicial Branch employees who live or work in that county, except for Justice of the Peace Court employees as provided in Section (b)(i) below, also will not report to work during that period. Jurors, litigants and others required to appear in Court during that period should not report to a Court if it is closed, or if otherwise excused by the Court for whom they have been called for service.
    2. Exceptions:
      1. "Essential" personnel of the Justice of the Peace Court: Employees who work at Justice of the Peace Court locations that are open on a 24-hour basis or have extended hours outside of the Governor's closing time period are considered "essential" personnel. Employees working at these locations should follow the Governor's decisions related to "essential" personnel unless otherwise notified by the Chief Magistrate. The Chief Magistrate will make the determination as to when those locations will be closed and under what circumstances if needed beyond the Governor's decision for essential personnel. The Chief Magistrate will communicate those closure decisions to the Judicial Branch and the public through the notification methods provided in Section (c) below.
      2. Unusual Emergency Circumstances: The Chief Justice shall, in unusual emergency circumstances consistent with 10 Del. C. § 2004, make a decision regarding closure of all, or certain, Judicial Branch facilities. These circumstances would typically not pertain to hazardous weather conditions, but would involve other emergency situations that affect the Judicial Branch, without necessarily affecting the other branches of government, including security and safety issues.
      3. Emergency Circumstances: In emergency circumstances (typically not pertaining to weather conditions) that pertain to individual courthouses, court facilities or operations, the following procedures may apply:
        1. If the Judicial Branch facility houses multiple Courts, then the Chief Justice, or a designee, will make the decision regarding the closure of an individual courthouse or judicial facility.
        2. If the courthouse or judicial facility houses the operation of only one Court or one Judicial Agency, or if unusual circumstances exist with regard to Court operations in that courthouse or judicial facility, then the Presiding Judge, or a designee, of that courthouse or the head of the affected Judicial Agency, or a designee, will be responsible for making such decision(s).
        3. Any independent decision by a Presiding Judge, the head of Judicial Agency, or their respective designees, to close a courthouse or judicial facility should be communicated by phone or email to the Administrative Office of the Courts immediately, which will relay the information to others, as appropriate.
        4. The Courts or the Administrative Office of the Courts, as appropriate, are responsible for communicating any independent closure decision(s) to the public and Judicial Branch employees through the notification methods provided in Section (c) below.
        5. If a courthouse remains open but circumstances exist that affect that courthouse's operations, the Presiding Judge, or her respective designee, may determine that jurors, litigants, or others required to appear in court during that time, should not report to that Court. The Court is responsible for communicating that decision to the affected persons.
    3. Notification of the Public and Judicial Branch Employees:
      1. Information concerning State of Delaware and Judicial Branch closures is available to the public:
        1. By checking the Judicial Branch website (courts.delaware.gov), or the State of Delaware website (www.delaware.gov).
        2. By listening to radio and television stations. A list of stations that typically broadcast or publish information include:

          New Castle County: WDEL, WSTW, WJBR
          Kent County: WDSD, WBOC (TV), WAFL
          Sussex County: WBOC (TV), WGMD, WZBH
      2. Information concerning State of Delaware and Judicial Branch closures is available to Judicial Branch employees:
        1. By signing up to receive weather closure information from the State of Delaware at www.delaware.gov (go to SUBSCRIBE e-mail/text alert and sign up for the Delaware Notification Service).
        2. By other communication means established by the Judicial Branch.
  2. Pre-Holiday Reduced Staffing of Judicial Branch Facilities:

    Holiday closures are established by the Governor or the Chief Justice. Absent a decision by the heads of the branches of government to close State facilities early and to waive compliance with the usual personnel rules governing leave, the Judicial Branch will remain open. But, recognizing that workloads are often reduced immediately before a holiday, a Court or Judicial Agency may permit skeleton staffing beginning at 3:00 p.m. on the Friday immediately preceding Memorial Day, Labor Day, and on New Year's Eve Day, and at noon on Christmas Eve Day. Supervisors will determine whether skeleton staffing is appropriate, depending upon work requirements on that day. Employees who leave early or who have been previously approved to be off on those days shall use accrued vacations, compensatory or other time as in any other situation when they take a leave of absence.

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