Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, state and federal courts in Delaware have issued numerous standing orders modifying their procedures.  The status of each court is listed below, as well as any modifications to normal operating procedures in civil matters, along with links to the relevant standing orders.  This page will be updated continuously as the situation develops.

Delaware District Court

The Delaware District Court has continued all jury trials and jury selection scheduled before May 31, 2020. Other hearings and conferences scheduled during this period have not been continued, but judicial officers are “encouraged to conduct proceedings…by telephone or videoconferencing where practicable and as permitted by law[.]”

Further, to the extent in-person proceedings are held, persons meeting the following criteria are not allowed to attend and should instead inform the relevant judge’s chambers: (1) anyone who has been advised to self-quarantine or lives with someone who has been advised to self-quarantine; (2) anyone who has either been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has had known contact with another person who was diagnosed; and (3) anyone experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, severe cough, or shortness of breath.

Visitors to the District Court – including vendors, contractors, litigants, attorneys, and other members of the public – are required to wear a mask or face covering when interacting with Court staff and in the common or public areas of Court facilities.

All other deadlines set by local rules or court orders remain in force. Filing procedures are unchanged, except that paper copies of filings are no longer required absent a specific request from the Court.

Links

Delaware Bankruptcy Court

The Delaware Bankruptcy Court has continued all hearings scheduled to be held in open court until after May 18, 2020. Any hearings before that time that the presiding judge determines are time sensitive—including chapter 13 confirmation hearings and motions—are to be held telephonically or by videoconference. All hearings scheduled between May 18 and July 11, 2020 will be held telephonically or by videoconference as well. The court is currently using Skype for Business and CourtCall to conduct these hearings. The local rules have also been modified for these hearings, and now require the parties to submit an agenda that lists the identity and location of any witnesses.

Additionally, the Delaware Bankruptcy Court no longer accepts hand delivery of any documents except those intended for use in the courtroom during a contested hearing or trial (such as exhibit binders). Instead, documents are only to be provided via email or CM/ECF, depending on the type of document. Specific instructions may be found at the link below. This prohibition may be modified on a case by case basis by the presiding judge.

Visitors to the Bankruptcy Court – including vendors, contractors, litigants, attorneys, and other members of the public – are required to wear a mask or face covering when interacting with Court staff and in the common or public areas of Court facilities.

Similarly, the court has suspended the requirement that attorneys secure a debtor’s original, physical signature. Instead, the debtor’s signature can be affixed electronically so long as the attorney has either “(a) obtained the debtor’s digital signature via any commercially available digital signed software that signature authentication and maintains a copy of the digitally signed document(s) in the debtor’s case file; or (b) obtains express written permission (including electronic mail) from the debtor to affix the debtor’s signature to the document(s), and maintains a hard copy thereof in the file.”

Links

Delaware Supreme Court

The Delaware Supreme Court is closed to the public until June 13, 2020. All arguments previously scheduled through the end of May 2020 have been cancelled and the court will decide those appeals on the papers unless a motion requesting argument was filed by March 27, 2020.

All deadlines set by local rules or any state or local statute that would lapse between March 23, 2020 and June 12, 2020 are extended through July 1, 2020. Deadlines imposed by a court order remain in effect. Parties may still file motions and appeals during this period, but responses will be due no sooner than June 1, 2020. The court has eliminated the requirement for paper copies and has relaxed any notarization requirements, allowing unsworn declarations to be submitted in place of notarizations (with some limited exceptions).

Links

Delaware Court of Chancery

The Court of Chancery is closed to the public until June 13, 2020. All hearings and trials scheduled in the interim are taking place by teleconference or videoconference. In cases where such a hearing is not practicable, the hearing or trial will be continued. If a party believes there is an exigent need for an in-person proceeding before that date, it must file a motion showing good cause and that all other means of conducting the proceeding are impracticable.

All deadlines set by local rules or any state or local statute that would lapse between March 23, 2020 and June 12, 2020 are extended through July 1, 2020. Deadlines imposed by a court order, including the briefing stipulations that are common in the Court of Chancery, remain in effect. The court has noted, however, that it “will be solicitous of granting Parties may still file motions and appeals during this period.” Paper courtesy copies required by the court are now delivered to a physical inbox at the courthouse entrance. Parties submitting courtesy copies through the box should notify the Register in Chancery by phone.

Links

Delaware Superior Court

The Delaware Superior Court is closed to the public until June 13, 2020. All civil trials are suspended through May 29, 2020, along with all related deadlines for the submission of pretrial stipulations, proposed jury instructions, and motions in limine for suspended trials. Other proceedings are postponed until further notice, except “essential matters,” which will take place through teleconference or videoconference to the extent possible.

All deadlines set by local rules or any state or local statute that would lapse between March 23, 2020 and June 12, 2020 are extended through July 1, 2020. Deadlines imposed by a court order remain in effect. Paper courtesy copies are no longer required unless specifically requested by the court. The court has relaxed any notarization requirements, allowing unsworn declarations to be submitted in place of notarizations (with some limited exceptions).

Links