How is the COVID-19 epidemic affecting the courts – FAQ

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On March 20, 2020 Illinois Governor Pritzker issued an executive order requiring Illinois residents to stay-at-home to help contain the outbreak of the corona virus.  This order went into effect on March 20, 2020 at 5pm and will remain in effect until April 7, 2020.  The order requires Illinois residents to remain at their house unless they are part of an essential business or government function.  Likewise, the courts have responded with their own measures to help contain the spread of the virus.  Courts are considered an essential service and a lot of court proceedings have time limits associated with filings and hearings.  Most courts have already implemented policies to reduce foot traffic inside the courthouse, but the policies vary from county to county.  We have listed some frequently asked questions and answers below. 

Are the courts going to be open?

Most courts are choosing to remain open, but they are taking measures to significantly reduce the number of people that are entering the courthouse.  These measures include continuing all out of custody cases and trials 30-90 days, allowing emergency orders of protection to be obtained through an online system, not allowing persons in the courthouse that do not have a pending case, and not issuing warrants for persons that do not appear for their court hearing. 

It is important to note that each county court is handling the situation differently and if you have a case pending, you should find out what policies your county courthouse has implemented.  To find out the latest information about the courts’ policies during the outbreak, you can visit the Illinois Courts website at http://illinoiscourts.gov/Administrative/covid-19.asp

Do I have to go to court?

While most courts are excusing the presence of individuals usually required to attend, it is still necessary to check with the court prior to missing a scheduled court matter.  Please refer to the information below for county specific policies:

Winnebago County

Boone County

Stephenson County:

Ogle County:

Dekalb County:

How are cases being rescheduled?

Most counties are automatically rescheduling cases.  The process for rescheduling a case varies by county, courtroom, and the presiding judge.  The majority of court cases are being moved automatically by the county clerks with permission from the presiding judge.  Once a case is moved, the clerk will notify the lawyer on the case (usually by email) and they will mail notice to the client as well.  This is a time consuming process and the clerks are still in the process of moving thousands of cases, so if you haven’t received notification as of yet, you might want to check the county court system to see if your case has had any updates or call your attorney and they can check it for you. 

Can I go with my friend to court even though I don’t have a case?

Probably not.  As part of the traffic reduction measures, courts are limiting admission to the courthouse to those persons who have pending matters.  If you want to attend a court hearing for moral support, you will likely not be allowed entrance to the courthouse. 

How do I find out if my case has been rescheduled?

You should receive notice in the mail from the clerk’s office.  If you have not received anything, you may want to check with the online court system for your county or call your attorney.  If your court date is coming up and you still haven’t heard anything, you may want to call the circuit clerk directly.  There is still a huge backlog of cases being moved due to the outbreak and there may be a delay in receiving the notices. 

Can I hire an attorney?

Yes.  While most of the court cases are being postponed, there are still time limits for certain filings and it is usually advisable to hire an attorney as soon as possible.  While our office is currently not doing any in-person consultations, we are still offering over the phone consultations and we will be answering calls 24/7.

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