As each of you know we are about to reopen per the most recent Supreme Court’s AO. We have been in touch with BSO, Court Interpreter’s, Clerk’s Office, Court projects, Court Administration, etc. The plan has been developed for all criminal divisions, both county and circuit, as follows,
1. Effective June 15, 2021, all Judges can use their individually assigned courtroom to hold in person hearings. If you previously scheduled an in person hearing in one of the in person courtrooms ( i.e. 6900, 6750 or 7870) it will be heard in your individually assigned courtroom. The clerk’s office, court interpreter’s and other necessary court personnel will be present in person. Any out of custody change of plea scheduled for Room 3144 will be directed to the division judge’s assigned courtroom to enter the plea. Attorneys, witnesses, and parties shall appear in person unless he/she has been specifically excused by the judge as to that case. Masks are required to be worn in the Courtroom. Please have your JA notify all attorneys, court deputies, Interpreters, and other staff as to matters you have previously scheduled to appear in your individually assigned courtroom.
2. Effective June 21, 2021, all Judges shall use their assigned courtroom to conduct in person hearings. Any currently scheduled circuit criminal FQ, FM and or FS in custody docket will no longer be conducted over zoom. Defendant’s on any FQ, FM, and FS in custody docket will be brought to the division judges to appear in person. County court criminal judges will have in custody defendants brought to their courtroom as before the pandemic. Defendants currently scheduled for individual zoom cart hearings on your own division zoom platform will be brought to your courtroom to appear in person. Masks will no longer be required in the courtroom. If witnesses need to be called by either party, that party must make arrangements to notify them of the in court appearance. Attorneys shall appear in person unless he/she has been specifically excused by the judge as to that case. BSO will not be providing zoom for in custody defendants on regular hearing dockets.
3. Effective June 21, 2021, Defendant’s arrested on a 1st Violation of Supervision will be brought to the courtroom as pre-pandemic. Violation of Supervision warrants will continue to be delivered by DOC to Judge Lynch for review. Violation of pretrial warrants will continue to be delivered by BSO to Judge Kollra for review.
4. Effective July 6, 2021, proceedings are back to the courtroom for both in custody and out of custody defendants. Any pandemic created docket will be conducted in your courtroom in person as before. Jury trials shall begin. Jurors are available to conduct trials. The Clerk’s office will be increasing each day the number of jurors summoned until the pre pandemic levels of jurors are available. Remember large special panels need to be pre ordered in advance or will be provided as available. Please review the Supreme Court AO for the case priority. If an in custody trial is not available then you shall try an out of custody case. As before, if you have extra cases ready to go other judges are available to try the case. Please have your JA call other judges all of the cases you set resolve to help.
5. Effective July 6, 2021, 1st appearance and extraditions shall fully resume in the first appearance court room. Attorneys shall appear in person as pre-pandemic.
6. Effective August 2, 2021, all court proceedings shall resume as pre-pandemic court appearance.
Presently the Clerk’s office sets our arraignments, status hearings and calendar calls by notice requiring appearance via zoom. The Clerk’s Office will be adjusting future notice to reflect the in the courtrooms for all hearings. This will take a few weeks. During this time you may still need to conduct some hearings on Zoom because parties/lawyers will have been notified of the date and time of the hearing. However, you should no longer set Zoom hearings. By the end of July, arraignments, status hearings and calendar calls should have been noticed for in person hearing and they will not include the Zoom meeting ID.
You are responsible for reviewing each of your cases and noticing these cases for the courtroom. This transition will take some time. There may be some resistance and it will have its share of issues. Telephone and email inquiries will increase substantially. Your office must respond to address the inquiries.
Remember it has been a long 18 months plus these changes are the “new normal” and patience is important. Please recognize the enormous task BSO and the Clerk’s office must take in making this change. Additionally, how confusing it may be for individuals who have received multiple dates and changes over the last 18 plus months.
We will look into a way to use the zoom platform for county and circuit criminal after the Courthouse has reopened successfully.
Andrew L. Siegel
(to all judges)