The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, with courthouses in East St. Louis and Benton, will remain open and continue to perform essential functions during the COVID-19 outbreak, however, new restrictions have been ordered.
According to a release from Chief District Judge Nancy Rosenstengel, the District Court, Bankruptcy Court, and Probation and Pretrial Services Office are continuing their work, adjusting staffing and operating procedures in order to protect the public health and simultaneously fulfill their respective missions.
The amended order, which will be in effect until April 7, details procedures for civil and criminal cases, public events, the receipt of filings and payments, and health-related limitations on entrance into the East St. Louis and Benton courthouses. After April 7, the order will be terminated or amended as the public health situation warrants.
The following measures are being taken:
• The federal courthouses in East St. Louis and Benton will be closed to the public, subject to exceptions allowing the district and bankruptcy courts and probation and pretrial services to fulfill their respective missions.
• Any person falling into one of the CDC risk categories relative to travel and exposure to the COVID-19 virus shall not enter the courthouses.
• District court filings will continue to be processed in civil and criminal cases via the Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (“CM/ECF”) system. For those without access to CM/ECF, documents may be submitted by mail, or in the event of emergency, may be submitted by email to: EmergencyFiling@ilsd.uscourts.gov.
All emergency filings must include an email address and phone number where the filer may be reached. Filings submitted by mail will be processed upon receipt after the courthouses reopen. Payments by attorneys utilizing the CM/ECF system will be processed via credit card utilizing Pay.gov. Payments by check or money order will be accepted by mail and will be processed upon receipt after the courthouses reopen.
Cash payments will not be accepted during this period of exigent circumstances. Any pro se litigant filing a case via mail should who cannot secure a check or money order should submit his or her filing by mail, and the Clerk’s office will send a notice directing payment be submitted after the courthouses reopen.
• All civil matters, including trials, hearings, and settlement conferences, scheduled from March 23 through April 7, for an in-court appearance before any district or magistrate judge in the East St. Louis or Benton courthouses are continued pending further order of the court.
• In all civil cases, all deadlines, whether set by the court, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or Local Rules, are extended by 30 days from the current deadline set. This extension does not apply to deadlines the court is not permitted to extend. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b)(2). If the COVID-19 public emergency results in the Clerk’s office being inaccessible, deadlines will be extended as set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(a)(3). Litigants are cautioned that this Order does not affect the rights to, or deadlines concerning, any appeal from any decision of this Court. The deadlines for filing a notice of appeal remain in place and must be followed to preserve appellate rights. The Court invites parties to file an extension of time to appeal under Appellate Rule 4(a)(5)(A) no later than 30 days after the time prescribed by Rule 4(a).
• This order does not affect the court’s consideration of civil or criminal motions that can be resolved without in-court proceedings.
• With regard to criminal matters, only essential in-court proceedings will occur. Initial appearances, arraignments, detention hearings, and proceedings where in-person attendance is constitutionally required are deemed essential and will be conducted in person, absent any waiver permitted under the law. Delays will be kept to a minimum, particularly with respect to pretrial detention.
• Due to the possibility that the court’s ability to obtain an adequate spectrum of jurors will be reduced, and the effect of public health recommendations and restrictions on the availability of defendants, counsel, court staff, and witnesses to be present in the courtroom, the District court will assess proceeding with criminal jury trials on a case by case basis.
• All scheduled bankruptcy hearings, including emergency matters, will be held telephonically. The bankruptcy court will provide call in information to the parties prior to the hearing. For those without access to CM/ECF, documents may be submitted by mail, or in the event of emergency, may be submitted by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. All emergency filings must include an email address and phone number where the filer may be reached.
• The U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Office will continue to investigate and supervise individuals as ordered by the court.
• The Central Violations Bureau docket in East St. Louis and Benton is continued until further Order of the Court. Payments will continue to be processed electronically (instructions appear on each citation).
• Naturalization ceremonies will proceed pending further order of the court. If an individual meets the criteria set forth in 8 U.S.C. § 1448(c) as qualifying for the expedited administration of the judicial oath, and if that individual is seeking a name change pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1448(e), the court will arrange for naturalization of that individual by a judicial officer.
• All public events and ceremonies are canceled, subject to being reset.
• Notices, announcements, and updates will be posted on the district court’s public web page https://www.ilsd.uscourts.gov. Additional information will be posted on each Court or agency’s public webpage.
• For additional assistance:
- East St. Louis District Court Help Desk: 866-867-3169
- Benton District Court Help Desk: 866-222-2104
- East St. Louis Bankruptcy Court: 618-482-9400
- Benton Bankruptcy Court: 618-435-2200
- East St. Louis United States Marshals Service: 618-482-9336
- Benton United States Marshals Service: 618-439-7701
- Federal Public Defender’s Office: Steve Welby, Federal Public Defender: 314-409-3172; Preston Humphrey, First Assistant: 314-496-3883; Laura Wildermuth, Administrative Officer: 618-910-7427