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Snow closes some federal, county courts

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The foot or more of snow dumped on the southern two-thirds of Indiana hasn't stopped some attorneys from making it to their offices today, but it has closed some courts around the state.

Most of the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of Indiana are closed, but attorneys are still able to make filings in the Indianapolis courthouse that remains open today, according to Clerk Laura Briggs. The divisional clerk's offices and the courts in Evansville, New Albany, and Terre Haute are closed and the buildings aren't open, she said. However, the Indianapolis courthouse remains open with a limited staff. The chief judge makes the call as far as closing the clerk's office, Briggs said, and each judge makes the call as to his or her individual chambers - deciding for instance if a case should proceed or jurors should be notified not to come in.

If someone misses a deadline in Indianapolis because of a paper filing, it will have to be handled on a case-by-case basis, since the clerk's office is technically accessible, Briggs said.

The federal courts in the Northern District of Indiana were open today.

Various county courts across the state are closed today due to the weather. Marion County courts didn't open and Delaware County courts closed at noon. The clerk's offices in Johnson, Hendricks, and Morgan counties reported most courts were open, but Johnson Superior 2 and Hendricks Superior 5 remained closed. The Morgan Circuit Court wasn't open this morning, but was supposed to open at noon, according to the Morgan County Clerk's office. A call to the Circuit Court wasn't returned by IL deadline.

At the state level, court business continued as usual, said Kathryn Dolan, public information officer for the Indiana Supreme Court. She said when it comes to declaring a snow day for the courts, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard follows the guidance of the governor and unless he declares an emergency, the judicial branch is open for business as usual. Some people arrived late today or took personal days, Dolan said, estimating about half the staff made it in.

Northern Indiana was spared the heavy snow and courts were open as usual. In northwest Indiana, Lake Superior Judge John Pera said the two inches the area received overnight wasn't enough to close the courts. So far this year, the county system has had two partial closings and a two-hour delay because of the weather, he said. Since taking the bench in 2000, Judge Pera said he only remembers one full weather-related closing of the courthouse.

Larger Indianapolis law firms noted mostly that attorneys were able to make it to the office by late morning despite the weather, but are allowing anyone who needs it the option to work remotely. Bingham McHale managing partner Toby McClamroch said attorneys were given a two-hour delay, but most showed up on time anyway.

Barnes & Thornburg spokesperson Ty Gerig said most of the staff made it in today, although it is a little less than they'd see on a regular business day. Taft Stettinius & Hollister reported strong attendance today, but allows anyone to work from home when needed, said Kelly Sharpe, business development and marketing manager.

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