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Allen Civil Court outlines procedures during COVID-19 pandemic

Allen County Superior Court continues to operate, with adjustments, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an update from Civil Division Judges David J. Avery, Craig J. Bobay, Nancy E. Boyer and Jennifer L. DeGroote.

• As Gov. Eric Holcomb’s March 23 “Stay At Home” order states, judges and court personnel perform “Essential Government Functions” and are exempt from the order. All e-filed motions, pleadings, claims, complaints, notices, stipulations, proposed orders and other documents filed with the court continue to be regularly reviewed and processed.

• No jury trials will be held as long as the COVID-19 health emergency exists. The Judges have entered, and will be entering appropriate orders concerning the use of juries in individual cases.

• With the exception of jury and bench trials, the Civil Division is generally conducting regular business by remote telephonic appearance. Orders have been entered in civil cases, informing the parties and counsel that they must arrange to appear at hearings by telephone. The court is issuing specific orders for telephonic court appearances and procedures in each individual case.

• The Small Claims Court in the Courthouse Annex at 1 W. Superior St. is open to accept new petitions from individuals who are seeking Orders for Protection. However, the Court strongly encourages individuals who are seeking Orders for Protection to e-file those petitions if possible. The website for individuals to e-file those petitions is: https://public.courts.in.gov/porefsp#/ All in-person court appearances in those cases will adhere to strict social distancing standards.

• All civil mediation may be conducted by telephone or video conference, as directed by the assigned mediator. All in-person mediations will adhere to strict social distancing standards.

• Probate and guardianship hearings are generally conducted by remote telephonic appearance. The court is issuing specific orders for telephonic court appearances and procedures in each individual case. Emergency guardianship cases may be conducted in the Courthouse. All in-person court appearances in those cases will adhere to strict social distancing standards.

• Most trials in the Small Claims Court in the Courthouse Annex will be delayed. The Small Claims Court is issuing specific orders for continuances, telephonic court appearances, and procedures in each individual case.

• Orders have been entered stating that parties and attorneys involved in collections cases are being informed that they may arrange for remote appearances by telephone.

• Garnishment reduction, exemption and release of bond hearings are being conducted by telephone remote appearance. Questions regarding Small Claims cases can be directed to smallclaims@allensuperiorcourt.us.

• All residential foreclosure and residential eviction proceedings are temporarily stayed and scheduled hearings will be reset. Tenants who have pending cases must keep their landlord and the court updated with their current address, phone number and e-mail address. Tenants should continue to pay rent to the landlord while they are living in the residence during this stay of proceedings. The acceptance of payments by a landlord will not be treated as waiving the landlord’s right to request an eviction. If a tenant voluntarily moves out, the tenant must notify the landlord and the court of the move, and must return the keys for the residence to the landlord. Landlords may file new residential eviction and foreclosure cases, and these cases will be stayed automatically. No other action is being taken on these matters.

• The Court retains its discretion to proceed in manners other than as set out above, as justice requires.