, Press Release

Pitt County Court Officials Form COVID-19 Courthouse Advisory Committee

The committee will provide recommendations on how courthouse operations can resume in a safe, healthy, and timely manner.

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Pitt County court officials have announced the formation of the Pitt County COVID-19 Courthouse Advisory Committee. The purpose of this committee will be to provide advisory recommendations to the courthouse decision makers on how court and courthouse procedures and operations can resume in a safe and healthy environment and in a timely manner in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee will meet regularly and held its first meeting on Thursday, May 14 via Webex. 

“At some point, we will resume normal court functions so cases can be heard and addressed, and we want Pitt County, our local stakeholders, and the public to be as prepared as possible during this unprecedented time,” said Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Marvin K. Blount. “We all know and understand that it cannot and will not be business as usual, but we want everyone who works in our courthouse, those who have matters with the court, and the public to be as safe as they can knowing that we have collectively tried to address the health and safety concerns related to our Pitt County Courthouse and our local justice system.”

Members of the Pitt County COVID-19 Courthouse Advisory Committee include:

  • Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Marvin K. Blount (Chair)
  • Resident Superior Court Judge Jeffrey B. Foster
  • Chief District Court Judge Galen Braddy (Vice Chair)
  • District Court Judge Wendy S. Hazelton
  • Clerk of Superior Court Sara Beth Rhodes
  • Lisa Nichols – Register of Deeds
  • Faris Dixon – District Attorney
  • Bert Kemp – Public Defender
  • Chief Probation / Parole Officer David McArthy
  • Lieutenant Romeo A. Garcia, Jr. – Pitt County Sheriff’s Office
  • Amy Hattem – Pitt County Deputy Director of Public Health
  • Chris Barnes – Pitt County Government
  • Dr. Herb Garrison – Professor of Emergency Medicine, East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine
  • Les Robinson – Robinson Law Firm (Criminal Bar Representative)
  • Derek Brown – Derek K. Brown Law Firm (Criminal Bar Representative)
  • Charles Ellis – Ward and Smith, PA (Civil Bar Representative)  
  • Tracy H. Stroud – Columbo Kitchen Attorneys (Civil Bar Representative)
  • Calvin Henderson – At Large Public Representative

In mid-March, Supreme Court of North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued emergency orders designed to reduce the spread of infection while allowing our courts to remain open under certain restrictions. These necessary actions were designed to reduce foot traffic in our courthouses in an effort to help reduce the community transmission of COVID-19 and protect our Judicial Branch employees who must interact with the public.

Pursuant to the Chief Justice’s emergency directive(s), effective March 16, all civil and criminal district and superior court matters (that are not subject to certain exceptions) have been tentatively postponed until after June 1. In Pitt County alone beginning March 16, hundreds of superior court matters and thousands of district court matters had to be postponed. In Pitt County superior court, 11 weeks of jury trial sessions were continued, 943 criminal administrative case were continued, 144 felony probation violations were continued, and 775 criminal indictments are currently waiting to be addressed by the grand jury.

For courthouse updates and more information about the North Carolina Judicial Branch, visit www.nccourts.gov/COVID-19.