Courts

Statements from the Courts Regarding COVID-19

St. Joseph County Courthouse 1 & Courthouse 3 & Mishawaka Annex

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 17, 2020 will be suspended and reset to a date after June 1, 2020.
  • Hearings in criminal cases in which the Defendant IS NOT in custody may be reset to a date after May 17, 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 17, 2020.
  • All hearings in Small Claims court, including immediate possession hearings, will be set or reset to a date after June 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 17, 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 June 3, 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.

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.

Courthouse 2- Traffic & Misdemeanor Division and Small Claims Division

As the Traffic and Misdemeanor and Small Claims Divisions of the St. Joseph County Courts begin to transition into in-person court operations, all persons with cases pending in the Court, their counsel and members of the public need to be aware that the re-opening of the 1855 Courthouse/Courthouse 2 is not a return to the schedules that were in place prior to the Covid-19 virus emergency declaration by Governor Holcomb.

The transition back to in-person operations has been guided by maintaining public safety in the courthouse.  A copy of the transition plan approved by Chief Judge Elizabeth Hurley of the St. Joseph Superior Court is posted above.

Hearing times have been changed times in the Traffic and Misdemeanor Division of the Court for cases scheduled in June 2020. Notices are being mailed to all Defendants by regular/electronic mail. The notice will be mailed to the Defendant or to their attorney. Defendants represented by an attorney should contact their attorney with any questions.  If a defendant is not represented by an attorney, he or she can go to the mycase.in.gov website and look up the information on the case by inputting their name and birth date or their case number into the search toolbar.

The Small Claims Court is reducing the number of cases that will be heard in each time slot throughout the day.  Again, notices are being sent by regular/electronic mail to all parties or their attorneys of any case rescheduling. Litigants in Small Claims Court should contact their attorney or go to the mycase.in.gov website to see if a scheduling change has been made in their case.

Arrive at the time assigned for your small claims or traffic and misdemeanor case.  Any early arrivals will be required to wait outside the building.   No one other than the parties or witnesses to the case will be admitted, without court permission. Do not bring children to Court, unless a child is a witness in a court proceeding.   The courtrooms have been marked to maintain 6 ft. distancing.  Floors are marked to show entry and exit directions.  Hand sanitizers are available. 

The Court is following the directives of the St. Joseph County Health Department requiring face masks in public places.  Any person who has a court appearance or other business to conduct in the courthouse must wear a face mask.  Persons without a face mask however will not be turned away and will be offered a mask or may be permitted to conduct their business in an alternative manner.

If further changes are required in court operations due to the Covid-19 virus, the St. Joseph County Judiciary is committed to keeping all persons with business before the Courts informed.  The best source of information is to monitor your case on the mycase.in.gov website and the sjcindiana.com website for updates on court operations.