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Criminal Justice Section COVID-19 Updates - Criminal Justice News

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Criminal Justice News

Posted on: Mar 24, 2020

All of the information below has been provided by John Gallo, 2020 chair of the Criminal Justice Section. Email John here if you have any questions.

April 2, 2020
One quick substantive update regarding in custody clients who want to accept a plea offer:

  • Schedule a video visit with your client and thoroughly review the plea agreement;
  • If your client wants to accept the agreement, ask your client for their proxy/permission to sign the agreement on their behalf (you can e-sign or print, sign and scan);
  • Once you have a signed agreement, e-file it with the Court and e-mail Court staff to get your client on the emergency calendar as soon as possible.

It's my understanding that the jails are working on getting signature pads in the jail, but those are not operational yet. 

March 31, 2020
From here on out, hopefully e-mails will be fewer and farther between. Video court is up and running, and I've seen private attorneys hop on with no problems. That's great!

From what I can tell, video visits from MCJ have been going smoothly while CCA has been a bit rockier. Please let me know if you have any issues. CCA currently only has two terminals for video visits--they hope to have four more by the end of the week.

I've attached a couple helpful PDFs:

Also, if you haven't renewed your IndyBar membership, please do so this week! You don't want miss out on super cool e-mails moving forward.

On a lighter note, watch your inbox over the next week. The Criminal Justice Exec Board is putting together a virtual happy hour for next week. Details to come!

March 26, 2020
CCA is officially open for video visits. Visits can be scheduled from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM and can last until 5:00 PM. To schedule a video visit, call 317-266-0882, ext. 25046. 

When call in, you can set up a time to speak to your client via video. At the time of your visit, you will need to go to the correct Court Call website. I have attached instructions on how to access the correct website (note: there are three separate websites depending on which monitor your client is using). 

You will also be able to schedule phone visits as well. It's likely that these will be able to be scheduled sooner than a video visit.

Again, this is a brand new system, so there will likely be some snags. 

March 24, 2020
A few updates:

  • If you have an in custody client set on any of the emergency slates and your appearance is on file, Court staff should reach out to you via e-mail with an invitation to the hearing. If you haven't received an e-mail invite by the morning of your hearing, reach out Court staff.
    • The e-mail will look like this:
  • At this point, you have two options:
    • You can "Join by Phone," call into the Court, and conduct your hearing telephonically.
    • You can join the Court via the WebEx video conferencing application (think Apple Facetime, Google Hangouts, or Zoom). 
      • This means, if you have a computer with a webcam and microphone you join the hearing virtually. Click the green "Join Meeting Button," and you'll be taken to the WebEx web page where you'll be prompted to download WebEx. Be sure to enable your camera and microphone so the Court can see and hear you.
      • Once in the meeting, you'll be able to see and hear the judicial officer, in-custody clients, and other attorneys.
      • IMPORTANT: If you aren't appearing behalf of your client, please mute your camera and your microphone. 
      • Once your client has been called and the hearing is over, you can sign out.


  • Dr. Virginia Caine, the Director of the Marion County Health Department, has ordered the discontinuation of direct attorney visits effective immediately. Obviously, this means you cannot visit your client in person. As of today, video visits at Jail I are up and running. CCA is not yet online--once they are, I will forward you the procedure for scheduling a visit.
  • We're working on a procedure to get pleas signed in the jail. I will forward that as well. 
  • Video Court is up and running. While the majority of the cases on the defense have been handled by the Public Defender Agency, we've had some success with private attorneys calling in/checking in with WebEx.

We're starting to settle into the new normal--please let me know if you have any questions.

March 21, 2020
Please review the attached memo from Court Chief Technology Officer Amitav Thamba. In short, the Courts are moving to video court starting Monday.  

Please refer to the information below regarding the technology needed to get up and running, and try to be patient as this will likely be a a bit bumpy to start. Let me know if you have any questions.

March 17, 2020
Given the worsening outbreak and cities across the country going on lockdown, the Courts are preparing to conduct essential hearings and jail visits remotely. This means that members of the private bar need to register with the MCSO for video court/visitation. I've attached an e-mail with instructions for registering from Lt. Tina Shanklin below. Once registered, you can conduct video visits with MCJ. CCA should be up and running soon; I'll let you know when it is. Most importantly, once registered, you'll be able to conduct hearings  remotely. The Courts hope to have remote access working by the end of the week. Once up and running, the Courts are planning to conduct bond reviews, initial hearings, and guilty pleas.

Moving on, we're two days into the Emergency Court procedures, and the Courts have some requests: 

  • If you have a client out of custody with a warrant, please file a motion to recall. In most cases, the warrant will be recalled and your client given a new date.
  • If you have in-custody clients, work with your prosecutor to get the case resolved. If you reach an agreement, e-mail the presiding Judge, and they will get it on the calendar ASAP.
  • Please minimize your appearances in Court. 
    • If possible, file a Remote Appearance. The Court will allow you to appear via telephone. 
    • If you must appear in Court, please check in then wait in the hallway. Court staff will let you know when they are calling your case.
  • If a Judge reaches out to you, please respond in a timely manner. It seems ridiculous that I'd have to list this, but here we are.

As I said before, the situation is fluid. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to pass along anything to the Court.

March 14, 2020
Please see the attached order from the Indiana Supreme Court authorizing the suspension of all non-critical court hearings in Marion County from March 16 until April 3, 2020. 

Practically, “critical” means initial hearings and bond reviews—all other hearings, including juries and evidentiary hearings, are presumptively non-critical. For the next three weeks, all major felony hearings will be held in Court 21 and all misdemeanor/F6 hearings will be held in Court 8. 

If you have clients with upcoming non-critical hearings, they will be continued. Check and do your best to alert your clients. 

If you have depositions scheduled and are not in danger of losing critical evidence, strongly consider rescheduling. 

Most importantly, if you or a client have flu like symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, do not come to court. According to the Indiana Department of Health, if you think you have symptoms you should stay home and contact your health care provider.

At this point, all IndyBar programming has been postponed until at least April 10, 2020. Future updates are forthcoming from IndyBar leadership, and please let me know if you have any questions.

In addition, I recommend the IndyBar webinar produced yesterday with infectious diseases physician Dr. Markian R. Bochan from St. Vincent’s. He has been at the epicenter of the outbreak in Indiana and provided the latest information on the virus in Indiana.

This situation is fluid and unprecedented; we will update you as we get more information.

If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Criminal Justice Section, please email Kara Sikorski at


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