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Most civil, criminal cases in Cook County Circuit Court postponed 30 days due to coronavirus

The 30-day period begins on Election Day, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced Friday.

The Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
Most cases in Cook County Circuit Court are being postponed for 30 days.
Sun-Times file

The effect of the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow, with Cook County Circuit Court suspending most criminal and civil cases for 30 days, starting Tuesday.

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans made the announcement Friday night.

The trial period will run through April 15.

Evans consulted with the 17 presiding judges as well as County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Sheriff Tom Dart and others in making the decision and issuing specific guidelines.

“We are modifying court operations to protect the public, court staff and the judiciary,” Chief Judge Evans said in a statement issued by his office. “We will continue to identify the appropriate balance between allowing access to justice and minimizing the threat to public health. I am also asking everybody in the justice system to exercise patience and flexibility as we move forward in these unpredictable times. This is an unprecedented situation, and we may need to make more changes in the days ahead.”

During the trial period, courthouses will remain open, but no jury trials in criminal or civil matters will begin. People summoned for jury duty from Tuesday through April 15 should not report; they will be told a new date for service.

Grand jury proceedings will continue, but may be held in courtrooms to allow extra distance between participants.

In a news release issued Friday night, Evans’ office outlined other guidelines for the 30 days:

• All trials and many hearings in adult criminal cases are postponed, but bail hearings, arraignments and preliminary hearings will continue

• Defendants may still reach plea deals, and defendants who have not yet gone to trial can still request a bail review.

• Low-risk and medium-risk adults on probation won’t have to meet in person with their probation officer in person; phone calls or video conference will suffice. Those considered high risk, however, still must report in person.

• All traffic and misdemeanor matters are postponed.

• Most delinquency and criminal proceedings involving juveniles are postponed; exceptions include detention hearings to determine if a juvenile will remain in custody.

• Cases of child abuse or neglect that involve requests for protective custody will continue to be heard, as well as emergency motions concerning children being allegedly abused in foster care.

• Requests for orders of protection in cases of domestic violence will not be postponed.

• Emergency child-support petitions can still be filed.

• Civil matters not deemed to be an emergency by either side are postponed.

• No eviction or foreclosure orders will be entered.

• Lawsuits can still be filed.

• No judges will perform marriage ceremonies.

Check back for details on this developing story.