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YORKVILLE – The Kendall County Courthouse is now requiring all persons to wear a face covering or mask when entering the courthouse as ongoing measures are put into place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The mandate went into effect May 1 in accordance with Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker's ongoing executive orders and the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a news release from the 23rd Judicial Court, which includes Kendall and DeKalb county courts.
Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer said people who have been appearing in Kendall County court have been wearing some type of face covering while in court so far. He said some judges also have been able to do settlement conferences with lawyers remotely – along with conducting non-evidentiary hearings, like just arguing in favor or against a motion as opposed to also including witness testimony and exhibits.
Pilmer said DeKalb County courts may be providing masks for those who don't have one on a first come, first serve basis. However, he said, Kendall County courts will not be providing those spare masks for visitors and staff.
“So if you don’t have one, you might not be admitted,” Pilmer said.
The masks or face coverings are mandated at the courthouse to protect the general public, as well as courthouse employees who may be unable to practice social distancing measures while conducting court business.
If staff and visitors are not wearing a mask, courthouse staff may decide to conduct business via alternative means like via telephone or teleconference.
Many court proceedings have been continued until the governor's orders are lifted, and charges are being handed out with orders to appear instead of jail bookings. Jury trials and large docket calls such as in-person bond calls have been scheduled at a later date or are conducted via telephone conferencing in the case of daily bond calls.
The previous 30-day suspension of select cases also has been extended unless they are deemed an "essential court function."
All cases set for trial between now and July 10 for Kendall County and July 17 for DeKalb County are continued until further notice, according to the news release. The circuit clerk for each county will provide notice to participants.
Kendall County cases affected by the pandemic-related continuance include the $1.8 million breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by a man who goes by James Doe against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Pilmer wrote in a March order that any matters that need to be addressed before trial will be covered during a 1 p.m. June 11 hearing, the jury trial setting now scheduled for 1 p.m. July 8 and the trial beginning 9 a.m. July 13.
There have been no changes made yet for the June 11 hearing and July 8 jury trial setting for the lawsuit, according to court records.
Other cases that have been moved as a result of the adjusted court schedule due to the COVID-19 coronavirus include the cases of Nehemiah Williams, 40, of Aurora and Kaitlin G. Minick, 22, of Yorkville.
Williams previously was found guilty of failure to report an accident related to the death of Amanda Stanton of Lockport and reckless homicide, which are Class 1 and 3 felonies respectively, by Pilmer during a bench trial that ended Jan. 15. Dawn Projansky, lawyer for Williams, filed a motion for Pilmer to reconsider his ruling or grant a new trial two weeks later.
Williams will now be due back in court 1 p.m. June 29 for his sentencing hearing, according to court records.
Minick recently was charged with six aggravated DUI counts after crashing into a hayrack ride carrying passengers near Plano last year. She was set to have her plea setting at 9 a.m. May 21 and no changes have been made to that date so far, according to court records.
Marriages will continue to be performed at the courthouses.
• DeKalb Daily Chronicle editor Kelsey Rettke contributed to this report.