Cook County Circuit Court is extending its suspension of most criminal and civil cases through May and expanding the use of videoconferencing amid the growing COVID-19 outbreak.
Originally postponed until April 15, most court cases are now suspended until May 18, the office of Chief Judge Timothy Evans said in a statement Monday.
Evans also ordered the expansion of videoconferencing for all court proceeds deemed necessary or emergencies, officials said. All court hearings will be conducted via video no later than April 16. Currently, all detainees with bail hearings appear in court via video.
“As we continue to monitor the spread of the coronavirus, these actions are needed to protect publichealth,” Evans said in a statement. “Our system of justice must continue to hear all necessary and urgent matters, and today’s order balances access to justice with the need for social distancing.”
During this period, no jury trials in criminal or civil matters will begin. People summoned for jury duty should not report and will receive a new date for service. No eviction or foreclosure orders will be entered.
In addition, Judge Evans ordered the Chicago branch courts at 5555 W. Grand Ave., 727 E. 111th St. and 3150 W. Flournoy St. closed starting April 6 through May 18, officials said.
Evans considered closing the five suburban courthouses and consolidating all suburban matters into the Leighton Criminal Court Building, but after consulting with health experts determined consolidating into a single location presented a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission, officials said.
On Monday, Illinois health officials announced 461 new COVID-19 cases, raising the state’s tally to 5,057. So far, 73 people have died from the virus.