Indiana Southern District to resume in-person jury trials in April

The Southern Indiana District Court has announced plans to resume in-person jury trials in April following a months-long hiatus due to the pandemic.

The court announced Friday that in-person jury trials are expected to resume in all divisions of the Southern Indiana District Court on April 5. Also, clerk’s offices in all divisions will reopen to the public on Tuesday.

Previously, Southern District Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson issued orders suspending in-person jury trials through March 1, then extended the suspension to April 5. Southern District clerk’s offices were closed to the public in November.

“The resumption of jury trials does not preclude a Judge from continuing a jury trial for reasons related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic nor, for criminal jury trials, making the necessary findings to exclude any such delay under the Speedy Trial Act,” the court said in a Friday news release. Questions about current scheduled trials should be directed to the courtroom deputy clerk for the assigned judge.

Pro se litigants can continue to submit filings via email, following the instructions provided in March.

Jurors who are summoned for service can be excused “upon a showing of undue hardship or extreme inconvenience,” though that juror will be summoned again at a later date or will be reinserted in the jury wheel. Upon written request, the clerk must temporarily excuse for undue hardship or extreme inconvenience a potential juror who:

  • At the time of the request has ongoing COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for the virus.
  • Is in a high-risk category for COVID-19 infection, as defined by the CDC or federal, state or local public health authorities.
  • Is quarantined after being exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Is caring for a family member or dependent with COVID symptoms or a positive test.
  • Is a health care professional whose employment is essential to the care and/or treatment patients impacted by COVID-19.

“The Court is taking multiple steps to keep jurors as safe as possible, including requiring face coverings by everyone who enters the courthouse, practicing social distancing, installing plexiglass barriers where appropriate, employing enhanced cleaning procedures, requiring all visitors to answer health screening questions and self-screening of employees, and more,” the court said.

Jurors can find more information about the Southern District’s jury policies online. The court has also created a general public information page detailing its COVID policies and orders.

In the Northern Indiana District Court, Chief Judge Jon DeGuilio issued orders last month suspending jury trials through March 1 and closing the clerk’s offices to the public for in-person interactions.

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