(BEDFORD) – Due to COVID-19, the current restrictions on hearings scheduled to be held in the Lawrence Superior Court 1 are extended at least through May 1st.
Specifically, no party will be permitted in the courtroom of the Lawrence Superior Court 1 from April 19th, until at least May 1st, unless granted special permission by the presiding judge of the Lawrence Superior Court 1, Judge John M. Plummer, III.
The Court will only conduct hearings that are absolutely necessary (i.e. defendant in jail and needs an initial hearing as a matter of law, and/or any hearing likely resulting in an immediate release from incarceration). In those cases, the defendant will not be transported to court from the jail but shall appear by the court’s videoconferencing service, court call, or some other court-approved video conferencing service. In those cases, counsel shall notify opposing counsel and the court about the necessity of holding such a hearing by Court Call or by other video conferencing service at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing. Only two lawyers at a time shall be permitted inside the courtroom at any given time.
Pretrial conferences and final pretrial conferences: Attorneys should conduct all pretrial conferences and final pretrial conferences outside of court. Following each conference, a pretrial conference form should be filled out and e-filed with the court. Under no circumstance should a defendant appear in open court between April 19 – May 1, 2020. Regarding final pretrial conferences, the attorneys should consider those to be regular pretrial conferences, and all deadlines for plea agreements shall be extended pursuant to Administrative Rule 17 as authorized by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Sentencing hearings: Unless there is a substantial likelihood that a criminal defendant will be released from jail on the day of sentencing, the sentencing hearing shall be continued. Counsel shall make prior arrangements with opposing counsel and the Court at least 24 hours in advance of said hearing if counsel has such a case where the defendant is likely to be released immediately following the sentencing hearing.
Criminal Trials: All criminal trials set in April will be continued.
Family Law: Most, if not all family law hearings in the month of April will be continued. In the event that a true emergency exists regarding child-related matters, the Court may hold a brief, emergency hearing. The rules limiting only two lawyers in the courtroom at a time shall apply. To the extent possible, Court Call or other video conferencing services shall be utilized to keep others out of the courtroom. If there is a need to deviate from these directives, counsel should contact Judge Plummer at the Lawrence Superior Court 1 at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled hearing.
The Court will issue further directives in the upcoming days/weeks as necessary.
“Thanks to everyone for your cooperation,” said Judge Plummer. “Please utilize social distancing and stay healthy!”