IN THE NEWS: INDIANA SUPREME COURT ISSUES FIVE ORDERS FOR LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
In order to give attorneys and their clients more latitude during the coronavirus emergency, the Indiana Supreme Court has “bent the rules”, allowing certain legal services to be provided while maintaining “social distancing”, the Indiana Lawyer reports.
In one adjustment to the rules, notaries and court reporters may swear in witnesses by remote video. In another, wills and other estate planning documents may be signed remotely by both witnesses and testators.
Traffic court will be closed until April 6; jury trials may be rescheduled until April 15 (there might be further postponement of either or both these dates).
Meanwhile, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office continues to work keeping the community informed on matters of criminal cases and crime prevention, Indiana Lawyer adds.
By governor’s order, all state government offices have been closed to the general public, including the Indiana Statehouse and Government Center.
Legal services, the order makes clear, fall within the category of “essential businesses and operations”, encouraged to remain open but subject to social distancing requirements.
At Ramey & Hailey Law, where we have been in practice for more than 40 years, we realize how unfamiliar these measures appear to be. Actually, 13 years ago, in April of 2007, a paper was published called “Guidelines for Pandemic Emergency Preparedness Planning: a Road Map for Courts”. The impetus at the time was the outbreak of SARS in Canada.
The paper mentioned all the factors that we are now experiencing in 2020: “These include the potential impact on constitutional rights, including the right to have a speedy trial, have a jury trial, and confront witnesses; sentencing options, particularly if the local jail or prison is full of 9 infected inmates; and the constitutional and/or statutorily prescribed functions the court must perform without interruption. “
In a way, it is comforting to know that plans have been put into place that can guide us today. We remind readers that if you have been injured and need help filing a personal injury lawsuit in Indiana, your case should not need to wait. Our attorneys are equipped to handle even today’s unique challenges, and our government officials are working to allow us to continue to devote our efforts to helping clients seek justice.