The Third Judicial Circuit is extending its precautions in response to the increasing COVID-19 coronavirus concerns, according to a Friday press release by Chief Judge William Mudge.
“[O]nly essential court matters and proceedings shall continue to be heard in the Third Judicial Circuit in order to protect the health and safety of court patrons, staff, judges and the general public,” the release states. “All non-essential court maters and proceedings shall be continued or, where possible, conducted remotely via telephone (or video in limited circumstances) or other electronic means.”
According to the release, essential court proceedings include:
- All matters with individuals in custody, including bond hearings
- Criminal trials with speedy trial demands and those in custody
- Summary suspension hearings, absent an agreed continuance
- Emergency and plenary petitions for protective orders, including orders of protection, stalking, no contact, civil no contact, and firearms surrender order, among others
- Detention hearings for detained juveniles
- Shelter care or other essential hearings for juveniles who may have been abused or neglected
- Mental health hearings for involuntary commitment or treatment
- Emergency hearings in family matters scheduled only with the approval of the court
- Any other emergency hearing scheduled and approved by the court
Individuals will be denied entry if they or someone they have close contact with have been directed to quarantine, isolate, or self-monitor at home by any medical provider.
Access will also be denied if individuals or someone they have close contact with have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Additionally, individuals will be denied entry if they have flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
If an attorney or litigant is unable to appear for a scheduled case, appointment, or other required appearance due to the access restrictions, they should contact the circuit clerk where the case is pending or visit their website.
Further, the court will only continue to conduct hearings on essential proceedings or time sensitive matters if a motion or petition cannot be conducted remotely via telephone, video or other electronic means. If a hearing must be held at the courthouse, parties are instructed to remain seated at counsel table and maintain a safe distance of at least six feet from anyone else at all times.
The law library/self-help center is closed. However self-help forms will continue to be available from the circuit clerk’s office.
E-filing requirements for self-represented litigants only is suspended until further notice as access to the clerk’s E-Filing terminals will not be available. Pro-se litigants may still file paper pleadings with the circuit clerk.
Also, staffing of the circuit court, its administration, the detention home, and probation and court services is being reduced.
The Third Judicial Circuit includes Madison and Bond Counties.