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The Michael J. Sullivan Judicial Center in Woodstock will remain open amid concerns surrounding the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Administration at the McHenry County courthouse is taking steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform state-mandated functions, trial court administrator Dan Wallis said in a news release Friday. Other “nonessential” services have been temporarily suspended.
The McHenry County Jail has its own set of procedures in place to ensure that detainees’ medical needs are met. Although the jail doesn’t have direct access to test kits, officials will coordinate with the county’s health department to obtain testing if it is necessary.
As of Friday, there were no COVID-19 cases at the jail, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said.
“Anyone that is suspected of having the coronavirus will be quarantined, and we will utilize protocols set forth by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], McHenry County [Department of Health] and our own medical department,” Rogers said in an email Friday.
Cleaning of the jail also is performed on a regular basis, Rogers said.
In an effort to limit the number of people entering the courthouse each day, administration is reviewing upcoming dockets to determine which cases can be continued to later dates. The court will send notifications to all parties involved in matters that are delayed.
In the meantime, anyone feeling ill is encouraged to call their attorney and ask for a continuance. If a continuance can’t be obtained in time, people should call court administration at 815-334-4385 and advise that they are unable to come to court. Callers should be prepared with their name, case number and the judge assigned to their case.
Court appearances via phone or video are possible for attorneys and litigants involved in civil matters. Anyone interested in using electronic CourtCall services should call 1-888-882-6878 and provide their name, case number and the judge presiding over their case. Video and telephone appearances are limited to status, nonevidentiary and uncontested matters only, according to the release.
The 22nd Judicial Circuit also is working to reduce the number of jurors summoned for trial, although compliance with jury duty still is required.
“A trial by jury is a constitutional right and, as such, a court cannot function without jurors. Therefore, the 22nd Judicial Circuit will continue to summons jurors,” Wallis said in the release.
Anyone who is ill and cannot comply with a jury summons should contact the McHenry County Jury Commission at 815-334-4930 and provide their name and juror identification number. The Department of Probation and Court Services also will explore the use of technology to meet with clients.
Nonessential court functions such as courthouse tours and school visits have been canceled, according to the release. Services such as the Early Resolution Program for Self-Represented Litigants, Small Claims Mediation and Family Law Volunteer Mediation, as well as the McHenry County Bar Association Attorney Help Desk, also have been temporarily suspended until further notice.
Judges will continue to perform marriages, although ceremonies may be canceled without notice. Couples are encouraged to limit the number of people attending their ceremony, according to the release.
“This unprecedented situation presents unique challenges to the 22nd Judicial Circuit’s normal operating procedures,” Wallis wrote. “Court leadership will continue to work with state and local officials to monitor the situation and make changes as necessary, and communicate those changes to members of the public, other branches of government and judicial partners.”
For more local news, visit Northwest Herald at https://www.nwherald.com.