JASPER COUNTY — In response to the rising spread of COVID-19, Jasper Circuit Court Judge John D. Potter has announced changes to court procedures to maximize safety for lawyers and litigants coming to court.
The most recent adjustments when conducting court business at the Jasper County Courthouse include:
• Large “cattle call” sessions for criminals, small claims and child support have ceased.
• The court is limiting the number of cases set per one-half hour to five or six thereby allowing recommended social distancing to the courtroom and lobby.
• Juvenile cases are being set at the rate of two or three per hour to allow appropriate social distancing for the larger number of people involved in those cases.
• Family law cases, pursuant to local court rules, are referred for settlement conferences or mediation, which can be safely conducted remotely, prior to a court hearing date.
• Per state law under the order of the governor, masks or face coverings are required for all persons in attendance in the Circuit Court.
• Temperature and health screening checks occur at the courthouse entrance.
The Indiana State Department of Health — Indiana’s lead agency on COVID-19 — has the latest information about the virus. The best approach involves fundamental health practices, including washing your hands, covering your mouth with your arm or a tissue rather than your hand and staying home when you are ill.
People summoned for jury duty in the Circuit Court will be asked to appear in smaller, staggered groups for jury selection, Potential jurors will be socially distanced and given masks and hand sanitizers. Additional measures include providing individual copies of each exhibit for jurors as required of the parties trying the case.
Filing With The Circuit Court
Indiana’s e-filing system is working. Cases and documents can continue to be filed through the statewide system. The statewide case management system (Odyssey) is also working. Litigants, attorneys, press and public can continue to view case information on mycase.in.gov. There is a dropbox inside the public entrance to the courthouse for individuals who do not wish to enter the building and go to the clerk’s office for assistance.
The supervision of criminal and juvenile probationers continues during the pandemic. Probation officers continue to monitor each of their clients as required by Indiana law to assure compliance and public safety. Community Corrections, governed by probation, has limited the number of offenders in work release to accommodate social distancing. The use of electronic and GPS monitoring of individuals have increased to meet the needs for required community-based correctional alternatives.
Creating a safer, socially-distance court experience for attorneys and litigants requires the use of more courtroom time. As a result, fewer hearings can be held each day and the time for setting a hearing once something is filed takes longer. “By now, all of us are used to, if not tired of, changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the county courts said in a press release. “The understanding and patience of all persons involved with the Jasper Circuit Court is appreciated.”
The citizens of Jasper County are blessed with a restored, 19th century courthouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which, by its very nature, does not take well to modern technological standards, the courts said. The county court system is pursuing technological upgrades in order to increase the use of remote hearings to help combat the spread of coronavirus.
“The Jasper Circuit Court and its departments are working with local emergency management and the health department to ensure we are taking the necessary steps in response to the virus,” the courts added.