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By order of the state Supreme Court, all essential court matters and proceedings will continue to be heard, with some coronavirus-related restrictions and concessions.
When feasible and allowed by the Constitution, hearings will be done via telephone, video or other electronic means.
Nonessential court matters, such as paying fines and obtaining documents, will be rescheduled or, if possible, also handled remotely.
In Whiteside County, officials are allowing access to the courthouse in Morrison and the Eastern Branch Court in Sterling by appointment only, and all visitors will be screened when entering the buildings, Circuit Clerk Sue Costello said in a news release.
That said, many tasks can be accomplished online:
• Court fines and fees: Electronic payments are accepted for all criminal cases that have court-ordered fines and fees through Judici, at www.judici.com. Money orders still will be accepted by mail; no “in person” cash payments are being taken.
All pay or appear monthly payments are excused until May.
• Traffic tickets: Electronic pleas of guilty for traffic cases that do not require a court appearance may be made through the Plea and Pay program at judici.com.
• eFiling: eFiling is mandated by the Illinois Supreme Court for all civil cases. The website is www.efile.illinoiscourt.gov; it also provides resources for self-represented litigants who may need help filing their documents.
• Electronic court records: All public court case information is available free of charge at judici.com.The records are updated in real time, meaning any changes to case information appears within minutes of being entered.
• Copies of court documents: Email email@example.com or call 815-772-5188. There is a charge in most cases.
• Frequently used forms: The Illinois Supreme Court provides standardized forms that can be used in any Illinois court at www.illinoiscourts.gov/forms.
• Legal self help: Illinois Legal Aid Online provides free legal information and step-by-step instructions at www.illinoislegalaid.org.
Whiteside County Court is part if the 14th Judicial Circuit, which includes Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties.
The 15th Judicial Circuit covers Lee, Ogle, Carroll, JoDaviess and Stephenson counties. Lee County court online documents are available through Full Court Enterprise; the other four courts also use Judici.
Many county courts likely are adopting similar policies – and especially emphasizing the use of online options whenever possible. Go to illinoiscourt.gov or call the circuit clerk of your county court with questions
For more local news, visit SaukValley.com at https://www.saukvalley.com.