The Morgan County Circuit Court is getting back to a sense of normalcy with a few extra precautions and guidelines in place. The Illinois Supreme Court issued an order last week allowing circuits to resume normal operations on June 1st. Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll says that some common sense measures and physical distancing in the courtroom will allow for the court to resume proceedings on a regular basis. “Specifically, Chief Judge Christopher Reif has requested that attorneys and clients entering into the building wear a mask, while they are in court unless they are speaking or ask to remove it. There has been protocols put in place that governs large volume calls to the court. Specifically, as far as the criminal courts go, we have a large volume at least once a month and sometimes two or three times a month where there are a variety of criminal cases and traffic cases that are called. The judge has started to schedule those on a more staggered basis to limit the amount of individuals that are in the courtroom at one particular time.”
Noll says that teleconferencing for drug court, civil, and minor criminal cases will still occur, and possibly increase. Noll says that Chief Judge Reif has asked that criminal clients be met with outside of the courthouse grounds and that all parties should bring their own pens for signatures. Noll says common sense measures like avoiding high-touch surfaces and remaining six feet apart as much as possible at all time should also be followed. Bags, backpacks, and purses are prohibited in the courtroom and courthouse at this time. Public seating in the courtroom has been marked off.
Noll says that the circuit court is prepared for the large influx of cases that have been postponed and continued during the pandemic. “We certainly will be able to handle it. It will make for a busier June, July, and August than we would have otherwise. Our system is set up so that we can handle a large volume of cases. It’s just that it’s going to be more difficult than it has been in past years. Having said that, I think the judge has done a great job over the last couple months of getting cases in front of him that we can resolve. Not everything has been backed up, but there certainly has been more continuances that have been placed on the docket in mid to late summer and early fall than would have been otherwise.”
Noll says that the pandemic has only effected the State’s Attorney’s office daily routine and not the way they prosecute cases. He says they still work diligently in holding people accountable for crimes in Morgan County despite the current situation.