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Category Archives: EJDC AO 20-13

COVIDREsponseAO13

Administrative Order 20-13

On March 12, 2020, Governor Steve Sisolak issued a Declaration of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The next day, March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared a nationwide emergency pursuant to Section 501(6) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207.  To mitigate the spread of this deadly virus, the Center for Disease Control recommends putting as much distance between people as possible. Also, Governor Sisolak has directed Nevadans to stay home except to seek or provide essential services.

Article 3, section 1 of the Nevada Constitution provides that, “The powers of the Government of the State of Nevada shall be divided into three separate departments,—the Legislative,—the Executive and the Judicial; and no persons charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any functions, appertaining to either of the others, except in the cases expressly directed or permitted in this constitution.”  “In addition to the constitutionally expressed powers and functions of each Department, each (the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial) possesses inherent and incidental powers that are properly termed ministerial.  Ministerial functions are methods of implementation to accomplish or put into effect the basic function of each Department.” Galloway v. Truesdell, 83 Nev. 13, 21, 422 P.2d 234, 237 (1967).

Following the March 12, 2020, Declaration of Emergency this Court exercised its ministerial judicial power and entered, on an emergency basis, Administrative Orders Nos. 20-01 through 20-12.  This Order changed court procedures so as to minimize person-to-person contact and mitigate the risk associated with COVID-19 pandemic, while continuing to provide essential court services.  The Orders specify that they “shall be reviewed no later than every 30 days and shall continue until modified or rescinded by subsequent order.”

On March 31, 2020, Governor Sisolak entered Declaration of Emergency Directive 010, which directs Nevadans to stay home except to seek or provide essential services.  Directive 010 extends the declared emergency through April 30, 2020.  Consistent with this Directive and its original Orders, the Court has reviewed Administrative Order Nos. 20-01 through 20-12 and, after consultation with Chief Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court, orders as follows:

GENERAL PROVISIONS

  1. Continuity. Except as provided below, AO 20-01 through 20-12 will remain in effect and all 30-day deadlines in AO 20-01 through 20-12 will be extended until this order expires, is modified or is rescinded by subsequent order.
  2. Attorney Obligations: Attorneys, as officers of the court, have ethical obligations for cooperative civility under normal circumstances. This Court, under the present emergency, reminds attorneys that they have an obligation to be cooperative with courts and with each other as we all navigate these challenging circumstances.  This is not the time to press for unwarranted tactical advantages, unreasonably deny continuances or other accommodations, or otherwise take advantage of challenges presented due to the current pandemic. Lawyers are expected to be civil, professional and understanding of their colleagues, parties, and witnesses who are ill or otherwise unable to meet obligations because of the current restrictions.
  3. Jury Trials Suspended. Jury trials remain suspended and no jurors will be summonsed.  Trials will be rescheduled as the court calendar allows, beginning six weeks after this order is expires, is modified or rescinded.  Priority will be given to in-custody defendants who have invoked their speedy trial rights.  As the court looks toward resuming trials at some point in the future, the health and safety of jurors will be a priority. To that end, Jury Services is directed to develop a policy and system to allow all jury questionnaires to be sent, completed, returned, and distributed to the court and counsel electronically.  A mailing process should be developed as an alternative for the rare circumstance when a juror does not have e-mail.  Jury Services is also directed to develop policies related to the number of jurors who can reasonably be summonsed while maintaining social distancing, including the maximum number of panels that could be brought in weekly, health and safety information to be included with the jury summonses, and management of prospective jurors in jury services as well as during the jury selection process.
  4. Grand Jury. The grand jury will also remain suspended.  During this time, the Court requests that the Clark County District Attorney’s Office work with the Grand Jury Judge and Jury Services to develop policies to ensure the health and safety of the grand jurors, including social distancing and the ability for witnesses to appear by alternative means when possible.
  5. Issuance of Summons and Certified Copies. Summonses and certified copies shall be issued by the Clerk’s office.  A party or lawyer seeking to have the Clerk of Court issue a summons under NRCP 4(b) shall e-file the summons.  The filing code “SEI” must be used for the proper processing of the summons.  The Clerk will issue the summons electronically.
  6. Service of Summons. The Court recognizes that accomplishing personal service of process may pose significant challenges at this time, given the closure of non- essential businesses and stay-at-home directives.  Properly documented service issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic constitute good cause for the extension of time for service pursuant to NRCP 4(e), whether the motion is made before or after the 120-day service period.
  7. Electronic Service. All lawyers and self-represented litigants are required to register for electronic service and update any change of e-mail address with the Court.  In the limited circumstance where a self-represented litigant does not have an e-mail address, the Clerk’s office is directed to assist the self-represented litigant in creating an e-mail address.
  8. Proposed Orders. All lawyers and parties shall submit proposed orders to the respective department inboxes. See Administrative Order 20-10. NO OTHER E-MAILS MAY BE SENT TO THE DEPARTMENT INBOXES. The subject line of the e-mail must contain the full case number, the filing code, and the case name, in that order. For example: “A- 20-123456-C – ORDR – Smith v. Doe.” All documents should be submitted in PDF format. Every order must be submitted as a separate e-mail.  If a judge has significant revisions, the department will request a Microsoft Word version of the order from the submitting party for editing purposes. The Court notes here that both Word Perfect and Apple Pages allow documents to be saved in a Word format. NO ADDITIONAL ARGUMENT OR DISCUSSION SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE E-MAIL.  After the document is submitted, the judge will review the document, affix an electronic signature to the PDF document, and file the document into the Odyssey system.  All documents submitted will be filed by the department and served to all parties registered for electronic service.  Parties are responsible for filing the Notice of Entry of Order as well as serving orders by mail to any party who is not registered for electronic service.
  9. Filing Sealed Documents. If a party is requesting that a document be sealed, the party must file a motion to file under seal. The party should file separately the document to be sealed, using the code “TSPCA” – Temporarily Sealed Pending Court Approval. The judge will then review the motion and determine whether the document should be filed under seal.  Failure to properly submit a motion to seal the documents, failure to submit the document separately, and failure to use the proper filing code may result in the public electronic filing of the document.
  10. Documents Requiring Signature. All documents requiring the signature of another person require the submitting party to obtain e-mail verification of the other person’s agreement to sign electronically. The e-mail must be embedded in the body of the document or attached as the last page of the submitted document.

FAMILY

  1. Essential Case Types. Essential case types also include emergency child custody hearings, which shall go forward, preferably by alternative means.
  2. Extensions of Time Deadlines. Pursuant to NRCP 6(b), the Court recognizes the COVID-19 emergency as constituting “good cause” and “excusable neglect” warranting the extension of time in non-essential civil-domestic case types. This does not apply to the time deadlines that must not be extended under NRCP 6(b)(2) (motions under NRCP 50(b), 52(b), 59, and 60 and motions made after NRCP 54(d)(2) time has expired).
  3. Discovery Deadlines. Discovery deadlines, including deadlines for serving responses, pursuant to NRCP 31 (depositions by written questions), NRCP 33 (interrogatories to parties), NRCP 34 (producing documents, electronically stored information and tangible things, or entering onto land for inspection or other purposes) and NRCP 36 (requests for admissions) will be tolled from March 18, 2020, until thirty days after this order expires, is modified or is rescinded. Even so, the Court encourages discovery to proceed when at all possible.  All written discovery shall be exchanged by mail or through electronic means.
  4. Rule 35 Examinations. No Rule 35 examination may go forward until 30 days after the period this order is in effect. A party may file a motion demonstrating good cause to proceed forward with a Rule 35 exam. Good cause in this context means an extreme emergency such as imminent destruction of evidence. The motion shall also include protocols for ensuring the safety of the examinee and an affidavit from the medical provider indicating that the provider is able to conduct the examination following those protocols.
  5. Depositions. During the period that this order is in effect, no in-person depositions shall proceed except on stipulation or order obtained after filing a motion demonstrating good cause for the need for an in-person deposition. Deposition by alternative means may proceed as provided in NRCP 30(b)(4). The Court interprets NRCP 28(a)(1) and NRCP 30 to allow the deposition officer to be in a separate location from the deponent. See SCR Part IX-B(A) and (B) Rule 9.

PROBATE

  1. Wills. Original wills may be sent by certified or express mail. In lieu of mailing an original will for filing, a photograph (not a scanned copy) of the original will may be electronically filed with the Court Clerk. The original will shall be submitted to the Clerk within 30 days of the re-opening of the Clerk’s Office.

CIVIL

  1. Extensions of Time Deadlines. Pursuant to NRCP 6(b), the Court recognizes the COVID-19 emergency as constituting “good cause” and “excusable neglect” warranting the extension of time in non-essential civil case types. This does not apply to the time deadlines that must not be extended under NRCP 6(b)(2) (motions under NRCP 50(b), 52(b), 59, and 60 and motions made after NRCP 54(d)(2) time has expired).
  2. Discovery Deadlines. Discovery deadlines, including deadlines for serving responses, pursuant to NRCP 31 (depositions by written questions), NRCP 33 (interrogatories to parties), NRCP 34 (producing documents, electronically stored information and tangible things, or entering onto land for inspection or other purposes) and NRCP 36 (requests for admissions) will be tolled from March 18, 2020, until thirty days after this order expires, is modified or is rescinded. Even so, the Court encourages discovery to proceed when at all possible.  All written discovery shall be exchanged by mail or through electronic means.
  3. Rule 35 Examinations. No Rule 35 examination may go forward until 30 days after the period this order is in effect. A party may file a motion with the Discovery Commissioner demonstrating good cause to proceed forward with a Rule 35 exam. Good cause in this context means an extreme emergency such as imminent destruction of evidence. The motion shall also include protocols for ensuring the safety of the examinee and an affidavit from the medical provider indicating that the provider is able to conduct the examination following those protocols.
  4. NRCP 25(a)(1). The COVID-19 pandemic poses special challenges for dealing with the death of a party and the timely substitution of a successor or representative. To alleviate those challenges, consistent with NRCP 1, NRCP 25(a)(1) is tolled during the period this order is in effect.
  5. Depositions. During the period this order is in effect, no in-person depositions shall proceed unless the lawyers stipulate to the deposition or obtain an order from the court after filing a motion demonstrating good cause for the need for an in-person deposition. Deposition by alternative means may proceed as provided in NRCP 30(b)(4).  The Court interprets NRCP 28(a)(1) and NRCP 30 to allow the deposition officer to be in a separate location from the deponent. See SCR Part IX-B(A) and (B) Rule 9.
  6. NRCP 41(e). This order shall continue to toll the time for bringing a case to trial for the purposes of NRCP 41(e) for the duration of this order and for a period of 30 days after this order expires, is modified or is rescinded by a subsequent order.
  7. Court Annexed Arbitration Program. This order shall operate to toll the time counted toward the one-year deadline for any case assigned to the Court Annexed Arbitration Program under NAR 12(B). The tolling shall be from March 17, 2020, until 30 days after this order expires, is modified or is rescinded by a subsequent order.

CRIMINAL

  1. Right to Speedy Trial. The time period of any continuance resulting from the stay of jury trials imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic shall be excluded for purposes of calculating speedy trial time limits under NRS 178.556(1) and NRS 174.511. The Court finds that the pandemic constitutes good cause for the delay and the ends of justice served by delaying the jury trials outweighs the interests of the parties and the public in a speedy trial. The period of exclusion shall be from March 16, 2020, when the jury trial stay was first imposed through the date six weeks after this order is lifted. When continuing a speedy trial, judges should examine the custody status of the defendant.
  2. Guilty Plea Agreements. Guilty pleas and other documents that cannot be physically signed by the defendant must have the specific language: “Signature affixed by (insert name of defense counsel) at the direction of (insert name of defendant).” Defense counsel should then sign their client’s name on the signature line for the defendant.
  3. Specialty Court. Specialty court participants for any district court specialty court program who are out-of-custody may appear at status checks through alternative means.
  4. Certified Copies. Certified copies of prior felony convictions for the purpose of a habitual criminal determination shall be electronically filed with the Court prior to sentencing and captioned “Certified Copies of Prior Felony Convictions.” If the seal is contained on the back of a page, that page should be copied and attached to the last page of the conviction.
  5. Out-of-custody matters. Out-of-custody criminal guilty pleas and sentencings may proceed by alternative means at the discretion of the judge, keeping in mind the current limited time schedules for handling criminal cases.

JUVENILE DEPENDENCY

  1. Adjudicatory plea hearings held pursuant to NRS 432B.530 in dependency cases should proceed with the parents appearing by alternative means and submitting a written plea agreement. Adjudicatory trials and hearings regarding presumptions held pursuant to NRS 432B.153, 432B.157, 432B.159 and 432B.555 may also proceed by alternative means at the discretion of the judge.
  2. Disposition hearings. Disputed dispositions may be heard by video or telephone.

FINAL PROVISIONS

  1. Duration. This order shall be reviewed no later than every 30 days and shall remain in effect until thirty (30) days following the expiration of the March 12, 2020 Governor’s Emergency Declaration or until modified or rescinded by a subsequent order, whichever occurs earlier.

This is a searchable summary of the prior orders AOsummaryChart3_31_20

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