Southern District to halt trials, naturalizations due to COVID-19

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana announced Friday it is suspending jury trials and cancelling naturalization ceremonies in response to the continuing surge of COVID-19 cases in the state.

In an order signed by Chief Judge Jane Magnus Stinson, all in-person jury trials are continued until at least Jan. 25, 2021. Jury trials conducted by video teleconference will be allowed to proceed upon the motion or order of the presiding judge.

Also, court-officiated naturalization ceremonies are cancelled until at least Jan. 25, 2021. Individuals may be naturalized by a judicial officer when the court deems appropriate. The order does not affect the authority of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to administer the Oath of Allegiance.

Other court proceedings shall continue to be conducted by video teleconference or in-person as ordered in the particular cases.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana has not issued any new restrictions since its Sept. 18, 2020, general order that extended the authorization of the use of video teleconferencing or telephone conferencing.

In its order, the Southern Indiana District Court noted the new restrictions were in response to the increased coronavirus spread. The court determined it will not be reasonably possible to summon a pool of potential jurors and conduct a jury trial in person without putting the jury, attorneys, court staff and litigants at “substantial and unacceptable health risks.”

On Friday, Indiana reported 5,708 new cases of COVID-19,  bringing the state’s cumulative number of reported cases to 236,565. The total number of deaths has reached 4,613.

The courthouses in the Southern Indiana District remain open. Certain restrictions remain in place, including mandatory wearing of face coverings in all public spaces. In addition, the screening and other requirements set forth in the March 20, 2020, general order remain in effect.

All the orders, press releases and other information about the court’s operations during the global pandemic can be found on Southern Indiana District’s COVID-19 response web page.

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