Lawrence County Courts – Supreme Court Petition Granted

(BEDFORD) – On March 16, 2020, the Indiana Supreme Court granted the Petition for Administrative Rule 17 Relief filed by the Lawrence County Courts on March 13, 2020.

The Supreme Court authorized the tolling of all laws, rules, and procedures setting time limits for speedy trials in criminal and juvenile proceedings, public health, mental health, and appellate matters; all judgments, support, and other orders; and in all other civil and criminal matters before the courts of Lawrence County. In addition, no interest shall be due or charged during the tolled period beginning on March 16th through April 30th.

The order also directs and authorizes the Lawrence County Courts to alter, modify, and suspend necessary procedures as provided in the emergency plan submitted with the petition.

The emergency plan outlines some of the issues the Lawrence County Courts will likely encounter depending on what exactly occurs regarding the COVID-19 virus and any future restrictions.

Lastly, the Lawrence County Courts are ordered to file a status update no later than April 28th to inform the Indiana Supreme Court of whether there is an ongoing need for emergency relief.

Lawrence County Circuit Court Judge Nathan Nikirk

“The Courts have rescheduled non-emergency hearings and all three Courts remain open to ensure essential Court operations continue. I meet daily with Judge Plummer and Judge Sleva to review new public health restrictions and determine what if any changes we need to make to safely maintain court operations,” said Judge Nathan Nikirk.

Lawrence County Courts Emergency Plan

  1. Minimize contact between all individuals appearing for any court hearing.
  2. Conduct non-evidentiary hearings and pretrial conferences by telephone if possible.
  3. Utilize CourtCall for remote appearances when possible.
  4. Maximize use of “Person to Person” tele-contact through CourtCall between the courts and
    individuals incarcerated or placed at any of the following: Lawrence County Jail, Indiana Department of Correction, State Hospital, Mental health facilities, Juvenile detention facilities or any other facility authorized to house juveniles
  5. Make all reasonable attempts to adhere to all statutory deadlines unless doing so would endanger court personnel, members of the local bar, litigants or general public.
  6. To the extent possible, all criminal court plea agreement negotiations should take place and be completed prior to court. Plea agreement negotiations should not take place in open court.
  7. Same day plea agreements will not be entertained by the criminal courts except in urgent situations (i.e. defendant is to be released that same day, etc.).
  8. All transport requests from the Lawrence County Jail made by attorneys must be made by 3:00 p.m. the day prior to court or the inmate will not be transported.
  9. The Courts will make all reasonable efforts to reschedule time sensitive hearings as quickly as possible.
  10. Criminal and civil jury trials will be continued on a case by case basis depending upon the status of the COVID-19 virus.
  11. The Courts will consult regularly with the Lawrence County Health Department and the Lawrence County Commissioners regarding additional preventative measures.