Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Court – Update.

The District Court issued several new general orders over the past several days. On Thursday, the Court announced that the Springfield courthouse that had been closed to the public reopened on March 27th. The employee of the clerk’s office who had reported symptoms consistent with the disease tested negative for COVID, and the courthouse was given a thorough cleaning, making it safe to resume operations. Public counter hours for the clerks’ offices in each Federal courthouse were set to run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to permit the limited staff to complete needed administrative business. The Court adjusted criminal procedures to allow for electronic filings of various documents previously accepted only in paper format and to allow for video and telephonic conferencing instead of in-person appearances for various criminal proceedings, pleas and sentencing.

Perhaps more relevant to the IP world, all jury trials in the District that were scheduled to begin on or before May 29th have been continued indefinitely, with the continuance of any trial-specific deadlines to be determined by the individual judges. This applies to both criminal and civil trials. Grand jury proceedings are also continued until at least May 29th, although grand jury proceedings may be scheduled for emergency or essential matters.

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