Dear Bar Association Members:
We wanted to update you on the status of court operations in Marion County. The Indiana Supreme Court issued two orders on May 13, 2020. One order extended the declared emergency through May 30, 2020 and prohibits jury trials until July 1, 2020, as well as permits the expansion of remote hearings going forward thereafter, but no in-person hearings as of yet. There are no in-person proceedings occurring in Marion County at this time, and all essential hearings are being held remotely, as has been the case since March 23, 2020.
The Indiana Supreme Court created the Resuming Court Operations Task Force which consists of Judges Vicki Carmichael, Hunter Reece, Dana Kenworthy, Rich Stalbrink, and Heather Welch, one representative each from the Northern and Southern District Courts, and staff attorneys from the Indiana Office of Court Services. The Task Force has strongly encouraged judges continue to hold hearings remotely after May 30; i.e., if the hearing can be done remotely, it should be.
The Executive Committee, Judge Lynch and Court Administration Staff had our second meeting with key local stakeholders to discuss resuming court operations. Included in the meetings are the following: 1) Mayor’s Office: Paul Babcock and Ken Clark, 2) Marion County Sheriff’s Office: Col. Martin, Kevin Murray, Major Robinett, and William Gigerich, 3) Building Authority: Mark Peterson, Jim Corry, and Terri Blakeman, 4) Marion County Health Department: Dr. Caine.
The Mayor’s announcement on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, did not change how we will resume operations as it addresses retail businesses. The Mayor’s plan tracks the Governor’s Plan that State Government Buildings will open to the public on June 14, 2020, which is a Sunday.
The Indiana Supreme Court has required that all Indiana Trial Courts seek advice and guidance from stakeholders. Based on this advice and guidance, you can expect that the earliest date the Marion Superior and Circuit Courts may return to any in-person hearings would be June 15, 2020. This is based on guidance and orders from the Indiana Supreme Court, collaboration with the Controller and other City officials, as well as expert medical advice from Dr. Caine. Due to the high number of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths in Marion County, we are currently at least two weeks behind the State Plan created by Governor Holcomb. As you might imagine, the City-County Building is a particularly tough building to comply with the CDC and State/Local Health Department requirements and recommendations. On an average day, 5,000 individuals enter this building including employees. The City is in the process of engaging a firm with expertise in assisting all branches of government and city/county agencies in operating safely in a COVID-19 environment. This requires modification of the building in many areas. Some examples are installation of plexiglass, how elevators will be used by staff and the public, use of PPE by employees and the public, and what screening measure(s) will be used to enter the building, just to name a few.
If you have questions about a case, please see mycase.in.gov.
If you need the assistance of court staff, please see the Marion Superior Court’s website for a listing of essential staff at https://www.indy.gov/agency/marion-superior-court. If it is a Marion County Circuit Court case, please see https://www.indy.gov/agency/marion-county-circuit-small-claims-court. This is the best way to obtain information about a particular court and/or that court’s practices and policies during this time. While there is a general voicemail for the court system, court-specific phone communication is not possible at this time.
We appreciate your patience as we work through these difficult and ever-changing issues. Please stay safe and healthy.
Your Executive Committee
Judge Heather Welch
Judge Amy Jones
Judge Alicia Gooden
Judge Christina Klineman