Saturday, March 14, 2020

The court will be in recess... for 30 days... but not entirely

It's not a total shutdown. But before we can discuss what is, and is not, closed, and how that will impact practitioners as well as clients, it is necessary to look at the actual information provided by Circuit Court. (Comments are closed on this informational post.)

Scroll down for the General Administrative Order entered concurrently with this press release issued late yesterday by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans. But, first, the press release:
Many criminal and civil cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County will be postponed for a 30-day period starting Tuesday (March 17) due to the spread of the coronavirus, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced today.

Court operations will proceed as scheduled on Monday (March 16). The 30-day period runs from March 17 through April 15.

Chief Judge Evans took this action after consulting with the court’s 17 presiding judges, the county board president, state’s attorney, public defender, sheriff, clerk of the circuit court and representatives of local bar associations.

“We are modifying court operations to protect the public, court staff and the judiciary,” Chief Judge Evans said. “We will continue to identify the appropriate balance between allowing access to justice and minimizing the threat to public health. I am also asking everybody in the justice system to exercise patience and flexibility as we move forward in these unpredictable times. This is an unprecedented situation, and we may need to make more changes in the days ahead.”

No jury trials in criminal or civil matters will begin in the 30 days. Individuals who have been summoned to jury duty from March 17 through April 15 should not report for jury duty. They will receive a new date for service.

Grand jury proceedings will continue during the 30 days, and the proceedings may be held in courtrooms to provide more space and distance between people. Individuals who are currently serving in grand jury proceedings must report to court.

For all adult criminal cases, all trials and many hearings scheduled for the 30 days are postponed to a future date. Hearings that will proceed in the 30 days include bail hearings, arraignments and preliminary hearings. In addition, defendants may continue to enter into plea agreements to conclude their case. Any pretrial defendant may also request a bail review during this time.

In addition, for the 30 days, low-risk and medium-risk adults on probation do not need to meet with their probation officer in person. Probation officers have contacted clients to inform them that they will schedule meetings to be held either via video conferencing or phone conversation. Clients deemed high-risk will still be required to report to their probation officers in person.

All traffic and misdemeanor matters scheduled in the 30 days are postponed to a future date.

For delinquency and criminal proceedings involving juveniles, the only matters that will occur during the 30 days are demands for trial and detention hearings that determine if a juvenile is held in custody while the case is pending.

Judges will hear cases of child abuse or neglect in which the state seeks protective custody of a child, and judges will hear emergency motions in which children are allegedly abused in foster care.

For domestic violence matters, petitioners may seek orders of protection during the 30 days. Litigants may also seek an order of protection related to an existing civil domestic relations case (such as dissolution of marriage). Emergency petitions may also be filed in child-support matters.

For the 30-day period, all civil matters not deemed an emergency by party agreement are postponed to a future date. Emergency requests in civil matters will be permitted.

No orders for an eviction or foreclosure will be entered during the 30-day period.

Civil lawsuits may still be filed in person or via electronic filing.

For the 30 days, all courthouse Children’s Rooms will be closed. Individuals who have court business should not bring children to court.

After marriage ceremonies conclude Monday, March 16, judges will not perform marriage ceremonies during the 30-day period.

Though there will be fewer cases, all courthouses will remain open for the 30 days. Court employees who do not need to be in a courtroom or office will be encouraged to work remotely during this time.

In addition, the Circuit Court of Cook County is following the guidance of the Illinois Supreme Court, and signs will be posted at all courthouses to indicate that the following individuals should not enter any courthouse if they:
  • Have been in any of the following countries with the last 21 days: China, South Korea, Italy, Japan, Iran; or
  • Reside or have close contact with anyone who has been in one of those countries listed above within the last 21 days; or
  • Have been directed to quarantine, isolate or self-monitor at home for the coronavirus by any medical provider; or
  • Have been diagnosed with, or have had close contact with anyone diagnosed with, COVID-19; or
  • Have flu-like symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath.
Chief Judge Evans understands that one of these conditions may apply to a person who plans to attend a court hearing that is permitted during the 30-day period. He is following the guidance of the Illinois Supreme Court and asking the judiciary to make reasonable accommodations and reschedule matters for individuals who cannot enter a courthouse due to one of the aforementioned reasons.
And now the text of General Administrative Order 2020-01:
In light of global coronavirus pandemic, and in order to protect the health and safety of the general public, the court's judges and employees, and elected officials, after conferring with the offices of the Cook County State's Attorney, Public Defender, Sheriff, Clerk, County Board President, the Circuit Court Executive Committee, and representatives of the private bar, and pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 21(b) and the court's inherent authority,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that except as provided below, all matters in all Districts and Divisions of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, are rescheduled and continued for a period of 30 days from the originally scheduled court date, unless the 30th day falls on a weekend, in which case it will be continued until the following business day;

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that except as necessary for the purposes enumerated below, all judges and employees of Circuit Court of Cook County shall be encouraged to work remotely and conduct business telephonically or via videoconference for a period of 30 days from the effective date of this order;

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Sheriff of Cook County shall cease execution of eviction orders relating to residential real estate effective March 14,2020, The Sheriff shall resume execution of said orders in 30 days;

  1. ALL DIVISIONS: Judges will be available in person in each division and department to hear emergency matters
  2. PRETRIAL DIVISION: Bail hearings, including motions to review bail, will be conducted daily at all locations;

    a) Preliminary hearings and arraignments that have commenced as of the effective date of this order will proceed as scheduled,

    b) court will be in session for plea agreements,

    c) Jury trials in progress as of the effective date of this order will proceed as scheduled and juror deliberations in progress as of the effective date of this order will continue until concluded,
  4. JUVENILE JUSTICE DIVISION: Juvenile detention hearings and demands for trial will be conducted daily at 1100 S. Hamilton Ave., Chicago.
  5. CHILD PROTECTION DIVISION: All temporary custody hearings and emergency motions will be heard as scheduled.
  6. CHANCERY DIVISION: There shall be a moratorium on final judgments and executions of judgments in mortgage foreclosure proceedings.
  7. MUNICIPAL DIVISION, ALL DISTRICTS All traffic and misdemeanor cases are continued to the next key date at least 30 days following the originally scheduled court date. The Clerk of the Circuit Court shall provide postcard notice to the defendant.
  8. ADULT PROBATION DEPARTMENT, SOCIAL SERVICE DEPARTMENT, AND JUVENILE JUSTICE AND COURT SERVICES DEPARTMENT: In-person meetings between probation officers and social service caseworkers and the persons under their supervision will be reserved for high-risk clients. For low- and moderate-risk clients, probation officers and social service caseworkers will contact clients to schedule essential meetings to be held via either video or telephone conference.
  9. CIVIL MATTERS IN ALL DIVISIONS: Matters agreed by all parties to be emergencies will be heard and may be conducted either in-person or via video or telephone conference. Discovery in civil matters will continue as scheduled.
  10. EMERGENCY CIVIL ORDERS OF PROTECTION will be heard at 555 W. Harrison St., Chicago, and in Municipal Districts 2,3,5, and 6, and when sought in connection with a Domestic Relations matter, at the Richard J. Daley Center.
  11. MENTAL HEALTH HEARINGS will continue as scheduled.
  12. GRAND JURY: No new grand jury shall be empaneled before May 1,2020. Grand juries whose terms expire on or before March 31, 2020, shall be extended until April 30, 2020.
  13. FILINGS OF INITIAL PLEADINGS OR RESPONSIVE MOTIONS: Initial pleadings or responsive motions may be filed in person or via electronic filing through the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
  14. MANDATORY ARBITRATION: All hearings shall be rescheduled and continued for a period of 30 days from the date originally scheduled.
  15. FORENSIC EXAMINATIONS: All forensic examinations of criminal defendants, both adult and juvenile, shall be rescheduled for a period of 30 days from the originally scheduled date or the date of the order requiring such examination, whichever is later.
  16. OTHER: Non-essential gatherings, meetings, and travel are canceled, and programs including Traffic Safety School and SWAP are entered and continued until rescheduled. No marriages will be performed in Marriage Court during the 30-day period following the effective date of this order.
The Court may issue further Orders regarding this matter as necessary to address the circumstances arising from this pandemic. Further information will be published on the court's website.

Dated this 13th day of March, 2020, and effective March 17,2020. This Order shall be spread upon the records of this Court and published.