Over the last week, there has been a flurry of announcements from Illinois’ federal and state courts on the reestablishment of courthouse operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As jurisdictional guidelines continue to evolve, it’s important for lawyers to stay abreast of these updated guidelines. We have compiled a rundown of important recent announcements from across Illinois. We would encourage attorneys to monitor the websites of the Illinois Supreme Court, the Southern District of Illinois, the Central District of Illinois, and the Northern District of Illinois for future guidance.
Federal District Courts
Central District of Illinois
On May 21, the Court issued the Third Amended General Order 20-01, which continues the previous measures in the district until June 15, 2020, and suspends all civil and criminal jury trials through July 17, 2020.
The Court has also issued General Order 20-02, which temporarily allows non-incarcerated pro se litigants the option to submit filings via email when complying with the terms contained in the order, and General Order 20-03, which implements videoconferencing and teleconferencing pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act.
Northern District of Illinois
The Court issued the Fourth Amended General Order 20-0012 on May 26, ordering that civil cases be conducted remotely. In-court hearings are limited to urgent matters that cannot be conducted remotely.
In criminal cases, due to the difficulties of transporting detainees, nearly all court proceedings will be held on paper, or by phone or videoconference, not in person.
In a video message to the bar, Chief Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer noted that although courthouses have been empty, the court itself remains active. Since mid-March, “More than 1,350 new civil cases have been filed. Attorneys have filed more than 7,200 motions, and judges have entered 34,200 orders. In addition, the emergency judges have handled over 500 emergency motions filed since the start of the pandemic.”
Southern District of Illinois
As of writing, the Southern District of Illinois has not issued updated guidance to the First Amended Administrative Order 266 re: Court Operations and Use of Video and Teleconferencing During COVID-19 Emergency, which was filed on May 12.
Illinois State Courts
On May 20, the Illinois Supreme Court issued guidelines for resuming judicial branch operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidelines allow chief circuit judges to establish new schedules for in-person or remote hearings in their circuits based on local conditions. Since May 20, many Illinois circuit courts have issued reestablishment plans for courthouse operations effective June 1.
To support the use of remote proceedings, on May 22 the Illinois Supreme Court amended rules related to the use of remote hearings via telephone or video conference and the official recording of those court proceedings. Illinois’ First, Fourteenth, Sixteenth, and Twentieth Circuit Courts have all developed individual guidelines for remote hearings.
While many of the state’s circuit courts plan to reopen on June 1 with enhanced safety guidelines, the Cook County Circuit Court announced on May 27 that Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans will extend its modified schedule order to July 6, with the possibility of resuming proceedings earlier. Emergency and criminal pretrial hearings will continue to be held during this time via videoconference.
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