The Georgia Supreme Court will resume conducting oral arguments in person beginning June 9, Chief Justice Harold Melton announced Wednesday.

The high court has been holding oral arguments via Zoom since Melton first declared a statewide judicial emergency in March of last year, as the coronavirus pandemic forced a shutdown of live court proceedings.

“Although the statewide judicial emergency remains in place, this is yet another step in our court system’s return to robust court operations,” Melton said.

Public health protocols will be in place for the in-person proceedings. The nine justices, who all have been fully vaccinated, will wear masks throughout the session, as will all other persons in the courtroom, although attorneys arguing before the court may remove their masks at the podium if they so choose.

Although the courtroom gallery inside the Nathan Deal Judicial Center normally accommodates 154 people, with social distancing, the number will be limited to 34, including members of the public, co-counsel, parties, and media representatives.

All will be expected to wear masks over their noses and mouths and maintain social distancing as indicated in posted signs.

All in-person and remote oral argument sessions are broadcast live on the court’s website at www.gasupreme.us.

The in-person oral argument health protocols will be reassessed in time for hearings set for Aug. 24-26.

Once it is safe to have more people in the courtroom, the court will resume ceremonies at the beginning of oral argument sessions in which attorneys are formally sworn into the Supreme Court bar.

The court also will consider requests for remote arguments conducted by Zoom and may schedule some remote arguments each month.

Parties will be required to confer before filing a request for remote oral argument, and the request must indicate if there is good cause for the request or if remote argument is merely preferred.

Dave Williams is a writer for Capitol Beat

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