A courthouse wedding. Photo: JPott/Flickr
If you're planning to get married during the DNC, don't plan on a courthouse wedding. Mecklenburg County magistrates will not be performing marriage ceremonies or oversee small claims cases from September 2 through September 7. There are about 25 weddings per week at the Mecklenburg County courthouse. But no one will be able to tie the knot there during the DNC.
In addition, small claims cases will also be held off until after the convention. Chief District Judge Lisa Bell has reassigned three of four civil magistrates to prepare for a possible increase in arrests. Civil magistrates process small claims cases dealing with assets under $5000, landlord and tenant cases and evictions.
They also deal with involuntary commitment of individuals who may be mentally ill. During the DNC, one civil magistrate will be still be at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse to deal with petitions for involuntary commitment.
"If there's a big disturbance at any of the protests, where you've got a large number of people arrested at one time, those individuals have to appear in front of a magistrate in order to have the conditions of their release set," Bell says. "They can't be doing arrest processing and stopping in order to do weddings."
Bell says normally there are two to three criminal magistrates who deal with arrest processing, but there will now be six to seven assigned to this task. Access to the building where magistrate are located will be restricted and there will be fewer officers available to patrol the buildings.
David Granberry, Register of Deeds for Mecklenburg County says marriage licenses will still be issued, but he advises couples to find a religious leader or individual authorized by the federal or state government to perform a marriage or to go to a neighboring county to have a marriage performed. Licenses are good for marriage in any county and a marriage must be performed within 60 days of a license being issued.