In late August, after over two years of operating at reduced capacity, Lake County courts will resume regular operations in preparation for the upcoming pandemic, according to county officials.
According to a statement from the 19th Judicial Circuit Court, Chief Judge Mark L. Levitt recently met with representatives from the Lake County Health Department to discuss social distancing and the current local conditions surrounding COVID-19.
To resume pre-pandemic court operations, the court determined that doing so is “in the best interests of the general public, the judge, and the court employees.”
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There is a need to resume full operations, according to the statement, to “enable increased access to the courts while also addressing delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Levitt issued an administrative order reflecting the changes that will take effect on May 9. The order will be effective immediately.
The order applies not only to the Lake County Courthouse and Criminal Court Tower, but also to the Depke Juvenile Justice Center, the Arbitration Center, and the branch courts in the county of Lake County.
It will still be possible to hold most court hearings remotely if the situation calls for it. All jury trials will be held in person unless otherwise specified.
The only exceptions, according to Levitt, is bankruptcy hearings, which will continue to be held at the Lake County Courthouse until further notice from the bankruptcy court is received.
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When Chief Judge Diane Winter issued the COVID-19 order in March 2020, she made numerous changes to the court system, including a halt to in-person jury selection and court hearings in person.
Jury trials were set to resume in September 2020 but were again postponed due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.