Southern District extends COVID-19 in-person restrictions

No in-person proceedings will take place at the Southern District Court until June 15, except under emergency circumstances, the district court announced in a Tuesday order. That date, however, is subject to change depending on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in each of the district court’s four divisions, the order says.

Other than jury trials, civil and criminal proceedings shall continue to proceed by telephone or video teleconference as ordered in any particular case.

“Our judges and Court staff have worked tirelessly in our courthouses and from home to ensure that the wheels of justice continue to move. While we look forward to resuming full operations, the Court’s priority remains ensuring the safety of our staff and members of the public,” Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said in a press release.

The order issued by the chief judge continues jury trials through and including at least July 20. It also provides enhanced administrative authority for jury staff to defer service for certain categories of jurors through August 24, and provides for excludable time pursuant to the Speedy Trial Act upon particularized findings.

Additionally, naturalization ceremonies are canceled through at least June 15.

“It is important to note that the Court continues to perform many of its essential functions during the unprecedented conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. In cooperation with the detention facilities that house the Southern District of Indiana’s pre-trial criminal defendants, the Court conducts initial appearance hearings and detention hearings via video teleconference technology with the same timeliness it would during normal operations,” the district court said in a press release.

“Defendants who wish to do so may also have plea and sentencing hearings conducted via video teleconference. Judges are conducting an array of civil proceedings remotely as well, including settlement conferences and discovery conferences. Court staff continue to docket filings, process incoming mail, and tend to the myriad other daily duties of the Court,” the press release says.

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