Courts

Statement from the Courts Regarding COVID-19

On March 13, 2020, the St. Joseph County Circuit, Superior, and Probate Courts (hereafter “the  SJC Courts”),  signed the St. Joseph County Courts Action Plan Concerning COVID-19 (Coronavirus) (hereafter “Action Plan”). On March 16, 2020, the SJC Courts filed a Petition with the Indiana Supreme Court requesting approval of the Action Plan, which the Supreme Court granted on March 18, 2020.  The Action Plan, the Petition and the Order are linked below.

Pursuant to the Order, the SJC Courts are taking the following steps to follow the recommendations put forth by the CDC, while still providing the citizens of St. Joseph County access to justice:

  • All civil and criminal jury trials, including trials designated “speedy trials”, through May 4, 2020 will be suspended and reset to a date after May 4, 2020.
  • Hearings in criminal cases in which the Defendant IS NOT in custody may be reset to a date after May 4, 2020, at the direction of the presiding judge.
  • All hearings in Traffic and Misdemeanor court in which the Defendant IS NOT in custody will be reset to a date after May 4, 2020.
  • All hearings in Small Claims court, including immediate possession hearings, will be set or reset to a date after May 4, 2020.
  • Hearings in criminal cases in which the Defendant IS in custody will be held by video, with the exception of sentencing hearings, or any other hearing as determined by the presiding judge. In custody hearings will be held pursuant to the following schedule:
    •  Mondays and Fridays – Judge Jane Woodward Miller
    • Tuesdays – Judge John M. Marnocha
    • Wednesdays—Judge Jeffery L. Sanford
    • Thursdays – Judge Elizabeth C. Hurley
  • Hearings in civil cases may be suspended through May 4, 2020, at the direction of the presiding judge. Judges may continue to hold hearings but will make every effort to conduct the hearings by telephone or video.
  • With the exception of sentencing hearings, if a hearing is held in person in court, only the parties and lawyers should be present in the courtroom. Exceptions will be made only with the approval of the presiding judge.
  • Litigants may file court documents in drop boxes that have been placed inside the entrances to Courthouses 1 and 3.  The boxes will be checked throughout the day and the documents will be accepted for filing.
  • In Courthouse 1 and in the Mishawaka Courthouse, protective order “stations” have been set up, providing the appropriate forms and directions to assist in filling out and filing the forms. Completed protective order petitions will then be reviewed by the Court. Please note- the Mishawaka Courthouse will be closed from March 25, 2020 until at least April 20, 2020. Persons needing to fill out petitions for a protective order during this time should visit Courthouse 1 located at 101 S. Main St. South Bend, Indiana.  
  • Business with the Clerk’s office in the basement of Courthouse 1 will be conducted at the child support window. Marriage license applications will now be completed at a kiosk outside the Clerk’s office and will be sent to a printer inside the office.
  • The SJC Courts will review these procedures and file a report with the Supreme Court no later than April 20, 2020, indicating whether the courts can resume normal operations, or whether the procedure need to continue beyond May 4, 2020.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as the SJC Courts navigate this situation. It is our hope that, by taking these steps, we are ensuring that essential court business continues, while being mindful of the safety of litigants, court employees, and the citizens of St. Joseph County.

If you have a question regarding your case you may:

1. Go online to mycase.in.gov

2. Contact your lawyer

3. Contact the clerk at 574-235-9635

4. Contact the chambers of the presiding judge

** If you have a case at the Juvenile Justice Center, please check with the  St. Joseph County Probate Court for additional information**

 ** The City of South Bend and St. Joseph County instituted a travel watch, authorizing travel for essential matters only. The SJC Courts interpret “essential travel” to include travel to and from court for court matters, including the filing of petitions for protective orders. 

**Per county officials transportation related to compliance with custody and parenting time orders issued by Courts of competent jurisdiction shall also be considered “essential travel” and shall not be considered a violation of the Travel Advisory issued by St. Joseph County.