In-person hearings suspended at federal courthouses in Chicago, Rockford as COVID-19 cases spike

The clerk’s offices in the Northern District of Illinois will also close to the public on Friday afternoon, U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer announced Thursday.

SHARE In-person hearings suspended at federal courthouses in Chicago, Rockford as COVID-19 cases spike
The Dirksen Federal Courthouse in downtown Chicago.

Sun-Times file

With COVID-19 cases surging, U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer announced Thursday that in-person proceedings are being suspended at the federal courthouses in Chicago and Rockford.

The clerk’s offices in the Northern District of Illinois will also close to the public on Friday afternoon, Pallmeyer wrote in a letter detailing the new restrictions

The move to impose further restrictions comes after three employees at Chicago’s Dirksen Federal Courthouse tested positive for the coronavirus this month. That includes a court security officer tasked with screening visitors in the lobby. He was last seen at the courthouse Tuesday.

“Our court is not immune from the Coronavirus. … I need not remind you further that the virus remains highly contagious and that you need to continue efforts to maintain social distance, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently,” she wrote.

Starting Monday, all civil proceedings will be held either by phone or video in an effort to “limit the number of individuals in the Courthouses at any time,” Pallmeyer said. Jury trials will remain suspended until after Jan. 19.

The clerk’s office also won’t offer any in-person assistance until that date, she said. Instead, filings will be accepted via mail, email, dropboxes at the two courthouses and an electronic filing system.

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