JEFFERSONVILLE — The Clark County judges have requested that an emergency order related to court activities be reinstated in light of two new cases of COVID-19 among stakeholders of the courts.
On Monday, the judges filed a status update with the Indiana Supreme Court asking that the courts revert to only essential, emergency hearings until Aug. 14, based on the discovery that two people affiliated with the courts recently tested positive for the disease, according to the document. The Indiana Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the matter.
According to the filing, the two people were in the courthouse some or all days the week of July 6. On Monday, the courts were also notified that three other stakeholders had requested continuances in hearings because they had been around someone who had tested positive.
If granted, the Clark County courts would suspend all criminal and civil trials until Aug. 17, including those previously set for “fast and speedy” trial. The courts would continue to use video conferencing when available, including with inmates now in the Clark County jail. Spectators would not be allowed in the courtrooms and parties with legitimate court business would be allowed to stay home and request a continuance if they were ill, caring for someone who was ill, if they were providing child care due to a school closure or in a high-risk category.
The judge and chief court reporter would be working in person every day; other court staff would work remotely.
“We became aware of information about increased COVID-positive tests and close contact with individuals who had tested positive for COVID among court stakeholders,” Judge Carmichael said in an email. “In an attempt to try and contain, or at least mitigate, the spread of COVID-19 within the courthouse, the board of judges met early on Monday and decided to go back to more limited operations, and we are waiting for the Indiana Supreme Court to rule on our second status update.
“As has been true throughout this pandemic, the Clark Circuit Courts remain open and continue to serve the citizens of Clark County.”
The request comes nearly two months after similar restrictions were lifted throughout the state on May 17. Clark County’s initial request was granted in early April and extended by the Indiana Supreme Court statewide. Jury trials were allowed to resume June 1.