Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille reported that the closing of prothonotaries’ offices and courthouses in response to Hurricane Sandy will result in case delays. “Closing the courts has a huge impact … because rescheduling cases … results in a ripple effect of delays.” Castille is expecting to understand the full impact of the storm by Wednesday.
Castille spoke to The Legal Intelligencer (subscription required) explaining that delays could trigger violations of speedy trial rules for criminal defendants or statutes of limitations for civil plaintiffs. However, since the hurricane is considered an act of God, delays attributable to the storm will likely be excepted and won’t cause any violations of rights.
Under the judiciary’s continuation of operations plan, president judges in each judicial district can request help from or move trials to other counties in order to alleviate delays. President judges who choose to take advantage of this provision will likely submit requests on Wednesday.