Waukegan courthouse to resume pre-pandemic operations, end regular virtual hearings
After 25 months, the era of regular virtual hearings at the Lake County courthouse is set to end May 9, court officials said Wednesday.
In a new order, Chief Judge Mark Levitt wrote it is in the interest of the general public, judges and court employees to resume pre-pandemic court operations.
The new rules state that all matters related to felony and misdemeanor cases will be heard in person, except if good cause is shown and the judge agrees to hold a hearing via Zoom video conferencing. And if a hearing is held on Zoom, attorneys and litigants will be required to wear appropriate business attire, according to Levitt's order.
The full order is available to read at 19thcircuitcourt.state.il.us.
Levitt said the resumption of pre-pandemic operations will increase access to the courts and address delays caused by COVID-19.
Since March 30, 2020, attorneys and their clients have been able to appear before judges for most procedures at the Waukegan courthouse using Zoom. People would appear from their cars, places of work and homes in the interest of staying safe during what was deemed to be the worst of the pandemic.
Levitt said court officials will work with the Lake County Health Department, continue to monitor local COVID-19 conditions, and may issue further rule changes, if necessary.
Officials have had to change courthouse rules based on local case numbers several times since March 2020. Shortly after jury trials resumed in person at the courthouse in September 2020, COVID-19 cases spiked and officials had to suspend trials once again.
The Waukegan courthouse is at 18 N. County St.