Trials can start in August, confusion over evictions

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/AP) — Jury trials may resume, and evictions can proceed as of Aug. 1, 2020, according to two new orders from the Kentucky Supreme Court.

But the eviction order, which came as a surprise to Gov. Andy Beshear, caused some confusion.

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While criminal jury trials will be allowed to move forward next month, civil jury trials are still on hold until at least Oct. 1, 2020. Then, it is up to the judge’s discretion on whether or not it is safe to proceed with the trial, according to one of the orders.

Judges are also responsible for making sure everyone in their courtroom is wearing masks and practicing proper social distancing.

The program expired on July 25, 120 days after it was enacted.

While evictions are allowed to proceed Aug. 1, landlords still must provide 30 days’ notice to allow tenants to vacate before they can file an action for eviction. The order also states that landlords cannot charge any fees, penalties or other charges that may have accrued while the CARES Act was in effect.

When asked about the eviction order Tuesday, Beshear said the state is in mediation in a court in Northern Kentucky trying to come to some agreement on rules for handling evictions.

“We are trying to get everyone on the same sheet of music,” Beshear said, suggesting the orders in place prohibiting evictions likely provide some protection for tenants who are ordered out in 30 days.

Beshear said the talks center on making sure landlords are protected but aren’t given too much power over tenants, especially those who “truly can’t pay” because of the coronavirus impact.

Furthermore, Beshear said the number of people who could be impacted is “lower than expected” based on numbers compiled by the state.

“It is significantly smaller than anticipated…many tenants already are on payment plans with landlords,” Beshear said.

The orders from the Kentucky Supreme Court also allow additional access to court facilities, limit the hours for Circuit Court Clerk offices and clarify additional policies.

Appointments are required for any in-person driver’s license services and licenses that expire between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020, must be renewed remotely.

Night traffic court in Jefferson County has also been suspended until further notice, according to the order.

Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. said the court received a significant amount of feedback from court employees and elected officials to help make these decisions.

Kentucky court facilities were opened for limited services on June 1, primarily to resume hearings in civil and criminal cases, after being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new orders replace the orders the court issued on May 29, 2020.