Operating Procedures

Emergency Closures and Pre-Holiday Staffing

  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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