COVID-19 Coronavirus: Have a Court Hearing? Find Out What You Should Do.

Graphic that says: Have a court hearing? Find out what to do!

Updated 6/24/2020 11:30 a.m.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is changing all the time. The courts have declared a judicial emergency through September 1, 2020, which changes some of the ways courts operate. If you are scheduled for a court hearing in Vermont before September 1, check the Vermont Judiciary website or call your courthouse ahead of time. Your hearing may be postponed because of the virus outbreak. Or you may get approved to attend your court hearing over the phone or by video instead of going to the courthouse.

You can call your courthouse or contact us for advice on next steps. Instructions from the courts are quickly changing. We are doing our best to stay on top of these changes as they develop.

To protect everyone’s health, the Vermont courts are limiting who can go into the courthouses. Anyone who goes in must wear a mask over their nose and mouth and stay six feet away from other people. (There are a few exceptions to the mask rule, including documented medical conditions.) The courts will also ask COVID-related questions before you enter the courthouse. Learn more about courthouse health and safety rules.

Do you need to file a document with the court? Contact your courthouse clerk to ask about the ways to do it. 

Follow this link to a list of the courthouses in Vermont and their phone numbers

Eviction cases 

A new Vermont law “stays” (pauses) all evictions until the governor declares an end to the state of emergency, and for some actions, for 30 days after that. The courts cannot act on an eviction at this time (unless it's an emergency such as for criminal activity, illegal drug activity, acts of violence, or other circumstances that seriously threaten other residents). If you got a notice of hearing, contact us to ask for help

However, landlords can still start the eviction process and file a Summons and Complaint. If you get one, you need to file an Answer. Learn more about evictions in Vermont during the COVID-19 crisis

Foreclosure cases

If you are being foreclosed on and you live in the mortgaged property, the foreclosures is “stayed” (paused) until 30 days after the governor declares the State of Emergency is ended. That means the lender and the court can’t take further steps at this time. Also, the redemption period is paused. Learn more about foreclosures in Vermont during the COVID-19 crisis.

Debt collection cases

If you received a notice of hearing for a date before May 31, the debt collection hearing will be rescheduled. If you are scheduled for a court hearing before September 1, check the Vermont Judiciary website or call your courthouse ahead of time. You may get approved to attend your court hearing over the phone or by video instead of going to the courthouse. 

If you have received a Summons and Complaint, you need to send a written Answer to the court by the deadline (21 days from the day you were served by the sheriff, or 30 days from when you got the small claims complaint in the mail). You may be able to send the court your answer by email; see this information or check the Vermont Judiciary website for ways to do this. If you can’t email, you can mail your Answer to the address of the court on your Summons. Or, you can take it to the courthouse and put it in a dropbox in the lobby.

Do you have an appointment in federal court?

Bankruptcy hearings

If you are in the bankruptcy process and you have a hearing scheduled, it will probably not be held in person. It will likely be held online or over the phone. Call the courtroom deputy at 802-657-6404 before the hearing date to get information on how to attend by phone of by Zoom, an online meeting tool. You don't have to use video unless you want to.
 
Everyone has to wear a mask over their nose and mouth in the federal courthouses. You may be able to get an exception if you have a documented medical condition. Follow this link to learn more about bankruptcy court and federal court changes.

 

Updated: Jun 24, 2020