Coronavirus Update: Southern District Closes Evansville Courthouse To Public

first_imgThe latest: Updated 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana has ordered the closure of the Evansville federal courthouse to the public starting at 5 p.m. CDT Wednesday.Earlier Wednesday, the court ordered the closures of the courthouses in Indianapolis, Terre Haute and New Albany due to the ongoing risk posed by the coronavirus. The latest order, signed by Southern Indiana District Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, is meant to protect the general public, court personnel and the administration of justice.Anyone who does not have access to the court’s electronic filing system should mail all filings to the Southern Indiana District Court and Southern Indiana Bankruptcy Court.In her earlier order issued Wednesday, Magnus-Stinson said because of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the courts had to be closed to protect the public, court personnel and the administration of justice.The federal courthouses in Indianapolis, Terre Haute and New Albany were closed at noon.However, the order stated the court will continue to conduct all necessary hearings and other proceedings as deemed proper. Necessary witnesses will be allowed to participate upon notice from counsel.Court interpreters are still being admitted and may continue to enter court locations for scheduled proceedings. Also, in a press release, the court said the U.S. Probation Office will continue to monitor and enforce court-ordered conditions of release throughout the Southern Indiana District.The court said it continues to work closely with the United States Marshals Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Indiana Federal Community Defenders Inc. and other agencies to ensure criminal defendants are detained or released as appropriate in each case, and that federal warrants are served as ordered by the court.Like its Southern District sister, the Indiana Northern District Court noted in an order that it is not possible to summon a pool of potential jurors and conduct a jury trial without exposing potential jurors, counsel and others to COVID-19.The Northern District thus ordered that all plea colloquies and sentencing hearings in criminal proceedings scheduled to begin before May 1 be continued. Those hearings will be rescheduled to a date after May 1, with case-by-case exceptions from the assigned district or magistrate judge.Grand juries will continue to meet during the week of March 16, but grand juries thereafter will be continued until the week beginning April 13.“To the extent criminal proceedings may be conducted via phone or videoconference, in-person proceedings will be converted to telephonic or videoconference proceedings by the assigned District or Magistrate Judge after consultation with counsel,” the order says.Delays in criminal trials and other criminal matters caused by the continuances implemented by the order will be excluded under the Speedy Trial Act pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A).Additionally, all in-person civil court proceedings will be converted to telephonic or videoconference proceedings. Case-by-case exceptions to conduct nonjury, in-person proceedings will also be at the discretion of the assigned district or magistrate judge after consultation with counsel.Meanwhile, the Lafayette District Court Clerk’s Office has closed. Those seeking assistance can call 219-852-6500 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.In Allen County, all nonessential criminal hearings will be canceled during through April 13.“The most solemn duty we have in the courts is to serve the public, whether by delivering justice or by taking the steps we are announcing today,” Allen Superior Chief Judge Andrea R. Trevino, also the administrative judge of the Family Relations Division, said in a Wednesday news release announcing an emergency operations plan. “The most prudent thing we can do right now to protect and serve is to dramatically reduce the number of people required to come to the courthouse.”The Indiana Supreme Court granted the northeastern Indiana county’s petition for emergency flexibility in response to COVID-19. But, the courts noted, “(n)o Allen County court functions will cease entirely for the time being.”In the Allen County Criminal Division, bench trials will remain an option for defendants who request them.Sentencings and guilty pleas will continue as scheduled. But for any in-person criminal court proceedings except sentencings, courtrooms will be limited to litigants, attorneys, staff and media.Initial hearings, omnibus, trial settings and bond hearings will all occur via video. Fort Wayne City Court hearings will not be held this week.Criminal Division services, including in-house classes and support groups, are suspended for two to three weeks. Additionally, social distancing procedures are in place for group client intake appointments.For lower-risk clients who are in full compliance with the terms of supervision, case management appointments will be conducted via telephone until further notice.In the Allen County Civil Division, no jury trials are currently scheduled before mid-May. For trials set for after mid-May, judges will enter orders on the use of juries in individual cases. No jury trials will be held while the COVID-19 crisis continues.Small claims participants and attorneys may arrange for remote appearances via phone. Mortgage foreclosure hearings have already been moved to telephonic appearances. Further questions regarding small claims cases can be directed to [email protected], litigants in civil cases scheduled in the courthouse may arrange for telephonic appearances. The court is issuing orders regarding appearances and procedures in each case.Eviction proceedings are temporarily stayed and will be rescheduled. The court will hold a weekly review to determine when to lift the stay.Tenants in pending eviction cases must keep their landlords and the court updated with their current address, phone number and email address and should continue paying rent during the stay. However, landlords do not waive their right to request an eviction by accepting a payment.If a tenant voluntarily vacates a residence, he or she must notify the landlord and the court and must return the keys.Civil mediation may be conducted via telephone or video conference as directed by the assigned mediator.Additionally, probate and guardianship hearings will move to remote appearances when possible. High-risk populations are often involved in these proceedings, the courts said, so reducing the number of participants at the courthouse is important. Strict social distancing will be implemented for in-person court appearances.The Courthouse Annex is open to accept petitions for protection orders, which can also be electronically filed. Protection order trials are being reviewed and rescheduled to reduce the number of people at the annex at the same time. Cases involving people living in the same residence and those involving parental contact with children will be made a priority.In all civil buildings, social distancing measures will be enacted and enforced.For the Allen County Family Division, nonessential hearings are continued until further notice. That includes periodic reviews, permanency hearings, requests for travel, and children in need of services and termination of parental rights fact-findings, as well as all other hearings not directly related to the safety and protection of children.Essential hearings – removal of children from parents, guardians or custodians; requests for placement in a more restrictive environment; protection orders; preliminary inquiries; hearings on medical procedures; Family Recovery Court; and others required by the court – will proceed as the court schedule permits and in accordance with statutory deadlines.Finally, in the Allen County Juvenile Center, nonessential hearings in Family/IV-D Court are continued for a minimum of 30 days. Pleadings alleging emergency circumstances will be reviewed and scheduled accordingly.Proceedings such as case management and pretrial conferences that can be conducted telephonically will be held as scheduled. Additionally, warrant cases involving adults at the Allen County Jail will be conducted via video as scheduled. Protection order cases will also be scheduled as normal, with hearings held within 30 days.For probation/juvenile proceedings, many nonessential proceedings will be delayed for at least 30 days. Essential hearings will proceed as scheduled, with social distancing measures enacted and enforced for court check-ins and waiting areas.At the Juvenile Detention Center, family visitations and volunteers will not be permitted until further notice. Attorneys will be permitted to visit juvenile detainees, but they must follow sanitation and social distancing guidelines.“Our website and the orders we will issue in specific cases will be the best, most up-to-date information regarding procedure as we move forward in these unprecedented times. The public should be assured that our actions are taken with a grave sense of responsibility to the rule of law, and in keeping with the best interests of the health of our citizenry,” Allen Superior Criminal Administrative Judge Frances C. Gull and Civil Administrative Judge Craig J. Bobay said in a statement.Per the emergency order, the Allen County courts must provide a status update to the Indiana Supreme Court on April 10. The courts will determine then if a continuation of emergency operations is necessary.For further details on Circuit Court operational changes, represented litigants should contact their attorneys and pro se litigants should contact the court.For continuing updates on the status of court operations, visit over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, the LSAT has been canceled for March and the April test date is in question.The Law School Admission Council sent a letter this week to all those who had registered to take the March exam, notifying them of the decision to cancel. To ease the impact, all the March registrants in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been automatically registered for the April 25 exam.However, the LSAC pointed out that since the severity and duration of COVID-19 are unknown, the plans for administering the test in the April and June could change. The council told registrants that it would make a decision on next month’s test no later than April 10.“Cancelling the March test is a difficult step, but we believe it is the most responsible course of action to protect test takers, test center personnel, and the broader community,” the LSAC wrote in its letter to March registrants.The LSAC also said it is “aggressively exploring” alternative ways to administer the LSAT. To protect the health of test-takers and administrators, the council is exploring secure remote-proctored tests and an additional spring/summer administration, among other options.Also, the LSAC is working with law schools that are still accepting applications for the fall 2020 enrollment to push the deadlines for candidates. The council said it is confident “that our admission community will continue to respond to this extraordinary crisis with compassion and agility.”Previously …CourtsIndiana Supreme Court: The state’s high court announced Monday afternoon that attendance at upcoming oral arguments will be limited to attorneys and parties in the case. It also issued an order advising Indiana trial courts statewide to implement all relevant and necessary portions of their continuity of operations plan in conjunction with county emergency and public health authorities.The judicial branch stated Monday afternoon that it is “prioritizing the health and well-being of its employees and the community while ensuring that essential court operations continue,” with Chief Justice Loretta Rush monitoring the situation with guidance from the Indiana State Department of Health.“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,” Rush said in a statement. “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.”Attendance at Supreme Court oral arguments will now be limited to the attorneys and parties in the case, but the public is encouraged to watch the arguments live, online. The Supreme Court Law Library in the Statehouse is closed to the public.In its order advising trial courts statewide, the Indiana Supreme Court ordered Monday that courts implement “all relevant and necessary portions of its continuity of operations plan in conjunction with county emergency and public health authorities.”The order comes after Gov. Eric Holcomb declared a public health emergency earlier this month related to COVID-19 and President Donald Trump declared a national emergency relating to the virus.“Appropriate public health responses to the COVID-19 outbreak will likely require limiting trial court operations and inhibit litigants’ and courts’ ability to comply with statutory deadlines and rules of procedure applicable in courts of this state,” Rush wrote in the Monday order. Trial courts are now directed to utilize Indiana Office of Court Services assistance to prepare appropriate emergency local plans to protect the health of court personnel, court users and the public through enhanced social distancing, the order says.Additionally, trial courts should consider whether local needs warrant petitioning for emergency measures under Indiana Administrative Rule 17, including:Tolling for a limited time all laws, rules, and procedures setting time limits for speedy trials in criminal and juvenile proceedings, public health, mental health, and appellate matters; all judgments, support and other orders; and in all other civil and criminal matters before all Indiana trial courtsSuspending and/or rescheduling criminal and civil jury trials for a limited time, subject in criminal cases to the constitutional right to a speedy trial and the constitutional protection against double jeopardySuspending new juror orientations, extending existing jury panels and/or postponing jury service to a later date for jurors who are ill, caring for someone who is ill or in a high-risk categoryContinuing and/or rescheduling non-essential hearings, excluding emergency matters, domestic violence hearings and evidentiary hearings in criminal casesUsing telephonic or video technology in lieu of in-person appearances, unless a litigant’s due process rights would be violatedFlexibility allowing judges to exercise general jurisdiction over cases in each other’s courtsIssuing summonses in lieu of bench warrants or notices of failure to appearConsidering the existence of flu or flu-like symptoms in any attorney, self-represented litigant or witness expected to testify; exposure of such individuals to anyone who has or may have COVID-19; or status of such individuals in a high-risk category as constituting “good cause” to either appear remotely or continue a court setting, to the extent possible without violating statutory or constitutional rights.Allowing any attorney wishing to appear remotely for any status conference or non-evidentiary hearing without further leave of court upon filing a “Notice of Remote Appearance” in the court in which the matter will be heardSubject to applicable constitutional limitations, limiting spectators in courtrooms to the extent necessary to provide adequate social distancingFor trial court clerks, making drop boxes available for conventionally filed documents.Posting signage at all public entry points to judicial facilities advising individuals not to enter the building if they have been exposed to or have tested positive for the virus, if they are exhibiting symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, if they have traveled domestically to areas with widespread community transmission, or if they have visited or come into contact with a person who has visited China, Iran, South Korea, Europe or any high-risk country in the last 14 daysAllowing individuals with legitimate court business to stay home and request a continuance by phone to the county clerk if they are ill, caring for someone who is ill or in a high-risk categoryProviding sanitation materials such as hand sanitizer or bleach wipes at all courtroom entrances and counsel tablesIf an at-risk person attempts to enter a court office in violation of the protocols, the order says courts should consider permitting bailiffs and other security personnel to deny entrance.The Office of Judicial Administration has already put in place social distancing and telework options for its employees, the high court reiterated. All levels of the courts have e-filing and other technology in place that enables social distancing measures.“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,” the high court announced.Additionally, a website with guidance to courts and messages to staff is providing details on the judiciary’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. The high court further advises that Hoosiers contact their local courts for details on the status of visitors to buildings and to check individual cases on District: Indiana Southern District Court Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in an order Friday continued all trials until at least May 1.“It is not possible to summon a pool of potential jurors and conduct a jury trial in a manner that does not expose potential jurors, counsel, court staff and litigants to substantial and unacceptable health risks, specifically, the danger of becoming infected with COVID-19,” the order states.The Southern District Court noted such risks may be significantly mitigated by temporarily modifying court operations and that good cause exists to implement temporary changes.The order also says that unless otherwise ordered by the assigned district or magistrate judge, all other criminal court proceedings will proceed as scheduled. Conversion of in-person proceedings to telephonic or videoconference proceedings will be at the discretion of the assigned district or magistrate judge in criminal proceedings. The same is true for all other civil court proceedings, which will proceed as scheduled unless otherwise ordered by the assigned district or magistrate judge.Additionally, all naturalization ceremonies have been canceled.Northern District: Individuals preparing to become citizens of the United States  in the Indiana Northern District Court will have to wait after it too canceled several naturalization ceremonies through April 24, 2020.7th Circuit: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing plans to deal with the outbreak and are advising judges and staff to stay home if they become ill. It has not made any changes to its operations, according to the appellate court. However, it is monitoring the outbreak and said it will take whatever steps are necessary as the situation evolves.Indiana Trial Courts: In a pair of letters sent March 11 to Indiana judicial officers and Indiana Supreme Court staff, the Indiana Supreme Court outlined its updated measures in response to the outbreak. The letters stated that the Supreme Court, Appellate Clerk’s Office and the Office of Judicial Administration remain open and oral arguments are continuing as scheduled.However, the Spring Judicial College, Justice Services Conference and district meetings will not be conducted in-person. The court is developing alternative methods for delivering the programming to registrants and will provide information on that when it is available.Also, all meetings with external stakeholders will be held remotely. All out-of-state work travel for court staff is cancelled, and approval for all in-state work travel will be given on a case-by-case basis.The court has amended its work-from-home policy to give employees greater flexibility if they need to quarantine themselves or take care of children who are staying home because of school closures. Employees are not required to work from home. They can use any benefit time they have.In his letter to court staff, Justin Forkner, chief administrative officer, wrote “… your health and wellbeing are a priority for us, and we will continue to take responsible and proactive steps to mitigate risks to you — and maintain the essential operations of the Court and our agencies — even if that means ‘the way we’ve always done it’ need to change.”The court has created a special webpage where it will post all updates on court operations during the coronavirus outbreak.Indiana Court of Appeals: The Indiana Court of Appeals cancelled its planned appearance at Andrean High School in Merrillville. As part of its Appeals on Wheels initiative, the court was scheduled to hear oral arguments Monday but has scrapped the event over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. The event will be rescheduled.Also, the COA has directed its employees to work remotely at least through March 16 after learning some of its workers have had second- and third-degree exposure to others who have tested positive for the coronavirus.“We would like to emphasize that nobody from the court has tested positive or is currently exhibiting symptoms,” Chief Judge Cale Bradford said in a statement. “Given the importance of our work, our employees are equipped and trained to work remotely. … We will continue to evaluate this situation as it unfolds.”Bradford also advised, “Those doing work with the Court of Appeals of Indiana should conduct business under the regular rules and procedures.”Marion Circuit and Superior Courts: On Monday, Marion County Small Claims Courts announced they will now continue many pending cases through the beginning of April as measures are taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett applauded the move Monday in response to Marion County Circuit Court Judge Sheryl Lynch’s order.The order issued Friday continues small claims cases scheduled March 16 through April 3. Emergency hearings will continue as scheduled and the Marion County Small Claims Court will remain open to the public.Additionally, the order says Lynch is working with the City of Indianapolis and the Marion Superior Court Executive Committee to determine future action during the Marion County COVID-19 health emergency.“With some of the highest eviction rates in the country, and limited tools available to us under state law, the leadership shown by these judges should be applauded,” Hogsett said in a statement. “At a time in which many are grappling with the sudden closure of workplaces and schools, the ripple effects of public health policies will hit our most vulnerable neighbors the hardest.”As Indianapolis “confronts an unprecedented public health emergency that has required drastic steps to slow the spread of this virus,” Hogsett said his office would “continue to seek ways to alleviate the impact these policies will have on Indianapolis families.”Only essential and emergency hearings will be held during this time, including initial hearings for public defendants, bond review, initial hearings for children in need of services cases and continued initial hearings, time sensitive CHINS fact-finding hearings, juvenile delinquency initial hearings and in-custody trials, civil commitments, probate mental health hearings, limited guardianships, detention hearings for CHINS and juvenile delinquencies, and other emergency hearings at the judge’s discretion.Marion Circuit and Superior Courts will be operating under reduced staffing and will also reduce the number of hearing rooms available. Any essential and emergency major felony cases will be held in Criminal Court 21. Any essential and emergency Level 6 or misdemeanor cases will be heard in Criminal Court 8.Likewise, any essential and emergency probate matters will be heard in the probate court’s physical location. Directions of precise hearing rooms will be posted for any essential and emergency matters heard at the juvenile court location at 25th Street and Keystone Avenue in the main building.All traffic court cases will be continued. All ordinance violation and proceedings supplemental cases have been postponed for at least 30 days; those litigants should check for more information.Individuals called for jury duty between March 16 and April 3 are advised not to report for service. Likewise, people scheduled to come to court for a hearing in a criminal matter during that time are advised to check or contact their attorney to verify the court date.The Marion Circuit and Superior Courts also  will continue to review bonds, but all other hearings and trials will be rescheduled.A series of recommendations and two orders issued by the executive committee March 12 were joined by Marion Circuit Judge Sheryl Lynch. The committee described the steps as precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of the public and the staff who work for the city of Indianapolis and Marion County.In addition to the continuances, the executive committee was also “strongly requesting” March 12 that for the next 30 days, judges consider the following steps:Advise line deputies to not bring defendants to court for pretrial conferences that will only result in the setting of a new court dateAllow parties to appear remotelyContinue pretrial conference and non-essential hearing that will not result in a resolution of a caseExercise flexibility on requests for continuancesAllow attorneys-only conferences whenever possible without the requirement of a motionAlso, the executive committee requested that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department issues summonses for non-violent misdemeanor cases. These will be set for the initial hearing calendar for Wednesdays in May.The committee emphasized that this request only applies to potential misdemeanor arrests that would normally be released on recognizance pending a future initial hearing date. No police officer is obligated to follow this request.Additionally, the executive committee ordered that through April 20, any attorney wishing to appear remotely for any status conference, pretrial conference or non-evidentiary hearing is permitted to do so. The attorney shall file a simple “Notice of Remote Appearance” to inform the court.Also, the executive committee ordered that people coming to Marion Superior courtrooms immediately notify the staff if they are experiencing flu or flu-like symptoms or if they have been exposed to someone who has or may have the coronavirus.The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office is encouraging its employees to telework in response to the local emergence of the COVID-19 virus.“The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will maintain services to Marion County residents through this unprecedented situation,” Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said in a statement. “We are encouraging employees to work from home as much as possible as the health and safety of our employees and members of the public is of the utmost importance.”The prosecutor’s office says it has the capability to perform many of its duties and meet its responsibilities by phone, email and video conferencing.Individuals with pending criminal matters are advised to reference to verify upcoming court hearings. Litigants can also contact via email or phone the assigned deputy prosecutor to verify scheduled case-related meetings, depositions and court hearings.General questions or requests for assistance in contacting the appropriate deputy prosecutor should be directed to [email protected] Walk-in assistance at all locations will not be available until further notice.Additionally, all child support hearings will be continued until after May 6, as approved by the Marion Circuit Court. However, child support services will still be available by phone at 317-327-1800 or email at [email protected] County Juvenile Detention Facility: Unnecessary and non-essential public traffic at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Facility will also be suspended beginning March 16 for approved family members and volunteers. The youth will receive extra phone time. Additionally, youth who are ordered detained will be visually evaluated before being brought into the detention center.Marion County Probation: Indianapolis courts said they will suspend client in-person reporting requirements through April 6. Instead, the activities will be conducted over the phone and on the computer.Monday morning, Allen Superior Court announced jury trials scheduled for Tuesday in the Allen Circuit and Superior Courts have been canceled. That change comes just days after the Allen County courts initially announced that all scheduled jury trials would continue as scheduled for the foreseeable future.Prospective jurors who have been summoned for jury duty were advised in a Friday announcement to contact the jury office at 260-449-7520 or 260-449-7022 if they are ill, in isolation or believe they have been exposed to COVID-19. The Allen Circuit and Superior Courts also advised that whenever possible, measures would be taken to separate jurors waiting to be called in order to maintain recommended “social distancing” buffers.Additionally, all mortgage foreclosure hearings will be conducted remotely and by telephone until further notice.“Processes are being put into place to reduce to the greatest extent possible the need for in-person appearances in Small Claims Court cases, collections and other matters. Additional details will be posted here next week,” the announcement says.Any changes that occur will be posted on the court website and to the Allen Superior Court Twitter page.St. Joseph Circuit Court, St. Joseph Superior Court and St. Joseph Probate Court will take “extraordinary measures” in the coming weeks to continue providing access to justice.The SJC courts said they will work with the St. Joseph County sheriff to address the wellness needs of the St. Joseph County jail population.“If it becomes necessary to do so, the judicial officers will assess sentences being served at the Jail, as well as pre-trial release decisions, in order to try to strike a proper balance between community safety and community wellness,” a statement from the northern Indiana courts said. “Similarly, the judicial officers of the St. Joseph Probate Court will assess the population of the Juvenile Justice Center to make sure that safety and wellness needs of the community are properly met.”Court proceedings will be conducted “to the extent doing so is prudent.” All civil jury trials will be postponed, as well as criminal jury trials, provided that such postponements are consistent with the rights of the parties and the interests of justice.Requests for continuances of trials and hearings will be considered in light of the outbreak, according to the statement. The court is also encouraging attendance at hearings by telephone and video conferencing, including but not limited to all hearings involving defendants in criminal cases, whenever possible and when consistent with the rights of the parties and the interests of justice.Attorneys will be allowed to participate in pretrial conferences by telephone without filing a motion, and the court will take reasonable steps to limit the number of people attending hearings and trials to individuals essential to the proceedings being conducted, subject to the requirements of all applicable rules.Additionally, special consideration will be given to excusing prospective jurors from service if the health and well-being of such jurors likely would be adversely affected by jury service.The SJC courts said they will “support and encourage compliance with mandatory preventative measures like quarantines and isolations, protect potentially vulnerable staff, and be prepared for situations such as school closings that could impact court staff.”Judges of the SJC courts will remain in regular communication through the outbreak with a variety of departments, including the St. Joseph County clerk, Board of Commissioners, Board of Health, bar association, prosecutor, chief public defender and county sheriff.Lake Circuit Court issued two orders March 10 in response to the outbreak.From now until April 10, 2020, the court will allow attorneys to just file a “Notice of Remote Appearance” rather than filing a motion in order to appear telephonically for any status conference or non-evidentiary hearing. Also, the court has ordered anyone who comes to the Lake Circuit courtrooms who is ill or has been exposed to COVID-19 to immediately alert the court staff.The United States Supreme Court has shut its doors to the public until further notice out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees.The Supreme Court building closed to the general public at 4:30 p.m. Thursday but will remain open for official business, according to a statement on the high court’s website. Case filing deadlines are not extended under Rule 30.1.All public lectures and visitor programs are temporarily suspended, the Supreme Court announced.Law schoolsIndiana University has postponed its May graduation ceremony for its law students due to the coronavirus outbreak.Dean Andrew Klein sent an email to faculty, staff and students yesterday with the announcement that the May 15 commencement will not be held. Also, classes are transitioning online for the remainder of the semester once students return from spring break March 29, and all in-person events at the Indianapolis law school have been canceled at least through the end of May.All staff at the law school are being asked to work remotely if possible. They should remain reachable during business hours.Klein told the “McKinney Law family” to “be patient, calm and flexible on all fronts. I remain confident that we will handle the challenges ahead and come out strong on the other side.”Also, Indiana University announced March 10 that it would be suspending all in-person classes on all campuses from March 23 to April 5. For those two weeks following the university’s spring break, classes and coursework will continue online.The suspension includes both IU Maurer and Robert H. McKinney schools of law. They join a growing list of law schools, including Harvard, Stanford University, Columbia University, The Ohio State University, New York University and University of California Berkley, that have cancelled in-person classes or closed completely, according to the ABA Journal.The University of Notre Dame, including Notre Dame Law School, announced March 11 it would be canceling classes through March 20, and then begin online instruction March 23 through at least April 13.Valparaiso University announced it will be conducting all classes online starting Monday and plans to resume in-person classes April 13. Also, the university is limiting on-campus gatherings to no more than 100 people but is still planning to hold the law school commemoration April 24.The American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar issued a memo in February giving guidance to law schools for dealing with emergencies or disasters. As to moving classes online, the ABA advised that law schools must consider not only whether the course is appropriate for being taught via the internet but also whether faculty members have the experience and training and the school has the technological capacity to deliver distance education.“Simply moving a classroom-based course to a video conference call or to a school’s learning management system that supports other courses may be relatively easy, but … may not be an appropriate accommodation compared to, for example, adding extra days to the term when a regular schedule can be resumed,” the memo stated.Law firmsTaft Stettinius and Hollister LLP said Friday that in the event of an office closure, its infrastructure is set up to allow lawyers and staff to work remotely. Taft chairman and managing partner Robert Hicks advised that communications with Taft will continue on as normal.“We have protocols in place to ensure the security of confidential documents and emails,” Hicks said in a statement.Taft has assembled a COVID-19 Task Force comprised of attorneys across its practices “to provide ongoing guidance during this uncharted and fluid situation.” Likewise, a toolkit provides legal updates, information from health care authorities and other helpful resources.“Our attorneys and staff are also armed with resources to help them stay safe while continuing to meet client needs and exceed expectations,” according to the statement.Ice Miller LLP also released a statement saying it is “open for business and expect(s) to remain so.“We are implementing precautions and a business continuity plan that will allow us to maintain the uninterrupted high level of service and value you expect from us,” the statement reads. The firm’s preventative measures include migrating to phone or video conferences, limiting entrance into physical locations to essential meetings, implementing social distancing and working remotely in shifts, among other measures.Like Taft, Ice Miller has developed a coronavirus task force and resource center “willing to jump in and answer the tough questions around this evolving situation and its impact on your business.”Likewise, Frost Brown Todd has assembled a Coronavirus Response Team and a trending topics page to address client questions relating to such issues as supply chain issues, remote work/cybersecurity and pandemic planning, among others.Also, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath has asked its attorneys and staff to work remotely until at least March 31.The law firm said Tuesday that while it may be virtual, it is not “sitting still.” Despite the cautionary closure of its offices March 10, the firm “remained open for business with over 2,700 attorneys, consultants, professionals, operations and administrative staff around the globe working from the firm’s virtual network.”“Our attorneys, consultants and professionals are just a phone call or email away, and we are embracing other technologies to stay connected in a virtual world,” co-chairs Thomas Froehle Jr. and Andrew Kassner wrote in a statement.The firm has, however, canceled its 2020 M&A Conference in Indianapolis, according to public relations coordinator Muhamed Sulejmanagic.A Faegre Drinker COVID-19 task force was created to help clients fully understand and assess the legal, regulatory and commercial implications of COVID-19. FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailShare Coronavirus Update: Southern District Closes Evansville Courthouse To PublicMarch 18, 2020 | IL Stafflast_img read more