|The Indiana Supreme Court and the Office of Judicial Administration are taking appropriate steps to respond to COVID-19. Recently, Governor Holcomb announced state actions to reduce the spread of the virus. Like the Executive Branch, the Judicial Branch is prioritizing the health and well-being of its employees and the community, while ensuring that essential court operations continue.
Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush is monitoring the situation with guidance from the Indiana State Department of Health. She explained, “The Indiana Supreme Court will continue to hold oral arguments (subject to change), review cases, and accept filings—while taking proper measures to reduce exposure of COVID-19. We also know our trial court judges across the state are focused on ensuring essential court functions continue while being mindful of the safety of their communities. The Judicial Branch has avenues in place to ensure court operations at all levels continue.”
At the Supreme Court, attendance at oral arguments will be limited to the attorneys and parties in the case; the public is encouraged to watch the live webcasts. The law library is closed to the public. The Office of Judicial Administration has already put in place social distancing and telework options for its employees. All levels of the courts have e-filing and other technology in place, enabling social distancing measures. For example, parties can e-file documents without going to a courthouse.
Trial courts are being ordered to implement relevant portions of Continuity of Operations Planning (such as postponing jury trials, allowing for remote hearings, and keeping only essential staff in courthouses). Trial courts are being directed to petition the Supreme Court through Administrative Rule 17 to carry out operational changes. AR 17 provides the framework for trial courts to put operational changes in place in the face of an emergency. Chief Justice Rush has already signed orders allowing for adjustments to jury trials, hearings, and other business practices as requested by counties. The Supreme Court is prioritizing review of any AR 17 petitions filed.
A website—with guidance to courts and messages to staff—provides details on the Judicial Branch’s response to COVID-19. The Indiana Supreme Court and Clerk’s Office remain open, with appropriate adjustments in place to protect the health and well-being of employees and the community. Contact your local court for details on the status of visitors to county buildings or check your case at mycase.in.gov.