The Third Judicial Circuit will remain open with safety measures in place amid COVID-19 coronavirus concerns, according to a press release by Madison County Chief Judge William Mudge.
The Third Judicial Circuit includes Madison and Bond Counties.
"The Madison County Health Department advises that we should all minimize contact to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus," the release states.
“The current situation is one that presents challenges to the Court’s normal operating procedures,” it continues. “The Chief Judge’s office will continue to work with state and local officials to monitor the situation and make changes as necessary and communicate those changes to the general public, other branches of government and our judicial partners. We ask for your cooperation and patience as we work to minimize the risk to those utilizing the services of the Court, while we continue to perform our essential duties and mandated functions.”
The release states that precautionary measures have been implemented as cleaning and disinfecting efforts are intensified by building maintenance, especially for surfaces regularly touched such as railings and doorknobs.
Jury duty will continue, but the court is reviewing ways to minimize the need for jurors to be summoned.
“A trial by jury is a constitutional right and as such, a court cannot function without jurors, so jurors will continue to be summoned as necessary,” the release states.
However, if anyone is summoned for jury duty and is ill, they are directed to contact the jury commissioner at 618-296-4392 and provide their name and juror identification number. The jury commission will attempt to accommodate the situation.
Similarly, if litigants have a court date and are ill, they are encouraged to contact the opposing party or attorney to see if an agreed continuance can be obtained. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, litigants should contact the circuit clerk’s office and let them know they are unable to attend due to illness.
“Judges will consider on a case-by-case basis whether a continuance will be granted,” the release states.
The release states that the court will continue to perform marriages, but couples are encouraged to limit the number of people attending the ceremony. Additionally, couples should not include anyone who is feeling ill.
In regards to probation and court services, those departments will “explore opportunities to meet the needs of their clients while reducing the number of in-person meetings through the use of technology.”
Also, employees of the Third Judicial Circuit should not come to work if they are feeling ill.
Additionally, the Chief Judge’s Office has postponed several pre-scheduled activities in an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The Child Abuse Prevention Kick Off that had been scheduled for April 1 at the Madison County administration building is postponed.
Emotional support dog Fitz’s one year “Gotcha Day” celebration scheduled for March 27 at the Madison County courthouse is postponed.
All courthouse tours and school visits are canceled until further notice.
Court dockets that typically see a large attendance, such as some traffic and misdemeanor dockets, are postponed. “Certain” unspecified traffic and misdemeanor dockets will be continued for at least 30 days. Notice of any continuances until sometime after April 15 will be sent by the circuit clerk, “where practical.”
However, the continuance does not apply to driving under the influence, domestic violence or felony criminal cases.