Justices extend deadline for trial court transition plans to May 30

The Indiana Supreme Court has extended the deadline through May 30 for courts to submit transition plans for expanded trial court operations. The order also extends through the end of May emergency relief granted to trial courts in response to COVID-19.

On April 24, justices directed trial courts to begin developing plans for gradually resuming normal operations and to submit those plans for the high court’s approval by May 15.

But while some public-movement restrictions are being eased, the high court noted that the health emergency remains ongoing, and the court’s Resuming Court Operations Task Force continues to develop guidance for safely and responsibly expanding judicial operations.

Thus, the Supreme Court extended the deadline in a Wednesday order, stating that the effective date of all orders granting emergency relief is extended through May 30.

That includes, but isn’t limited to, tolling of time limits; authority for continuing jury trials and reviewing county-jail and direct placement community correction sentences of nonviolent inmates and juveniles; and prohibition on issuing new writs of attachment, civil bench warrants, or body attachments, and staying any such writs or warrants not yet served.

Trial courts shall also not resume jury trials until at least July 1 without prior approval from the high court upon the conditions established in the April 24 order.

Transition plans should be emailed to [email protected] and must identify the following:

  • The portions of the county or court’s preexisting approved Administrative Rule 17 petitions which must be extended, modified, or allowed to expire; and
  • The county emergency and public health authorities and local justice system partners consulted with in developing the plan, in accordance with this Court’s April 24 order.

Each county or court’s Administrative Rule 17 plan should also address areas of concern identified by the Resuming Court Operations Task Force report, which will be available on the Supreme Court’s COVID-19 website. That includes, but isn’t limited to, protections for ensuring court employee health and safety as operations resume; policies for protecting public health and safety in accordance with county health department guidelines as court facilities reopen; county and court plans for sanitizing and maintaining sanitation of court facilities; procedures for maintaining a record and allowing public access to remote hearings; and policies for selecting jurors and procedures for protecting the health and safety of potential jurors.

Courts should also plan for resuming activities related to community supervision, such as pretrial services, probation services, and problem-solving courts, the order says.

“In all other respects except as set forth above, existing orders granting emergency relief under Administrative Rule 17 remain in full force and effect,” the order says.

The case is In the Matter of Administrative Rule 17 Emergency Relief for Indiana Trial Courts Relating to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), 20S-CB-123.

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