03-24-2020 | Blogs, BW News, Legal News, Litigation

Courthouse Contagion: How COVID-19 is Affecting Your Cases, Hearings, and Proceedings

By: Ryan Shellady


Image of courthouse

 

Over the last two weeks, the Iowa Supreme Court has issued several Supervisory Orders affecting courthouse schedules and proceedings across the state in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These Orders can be found on the Iowa Judicial Branch website. Every Monday morning (or as circumstances require), the Judicial Branch will be providing summaries of all the Orders with up-to-date information.

The U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts have also issued orders about the status of their proceedings.

Below is a summary of how these Orders may affect your previously scheduled trials, hearings, proceedings and other procedural issues:

Civil Trials and Proceedings

Civil jury trials in both state court and in the Southern District scheduled to begin before May 4 have been continued and rescheduled for a later date that is yet to be determined.

Civil jury trials in the Northern District scheduled on or before April 24 are continued pending further order from the court.

Civil bench trials in state court scheduled to begin before May 4 either:

  1. Have been continued to a date no earlier than May 4; or
  2. Will be conducted by telephone at the judge’s discretion.

Non-jury civil trials and other hearings in the Southern District may be conducted at the judge’s discretion.

Non-jury civil trials and hearings in the Northern District shall proceed unless continued by the presiding judge.

Mediations scheduled to occur at a state courthouse location before May 4 shall be continued or directed to occur by video conference.

Video/Telephonic Proceedings

State court judges have discretion over all proceedings scheduled by phone or video. You should contact the court with further questions related to video/telephonic proceedings. If the court believes the matter should move forward without being postponed, the court may order telephonic hearings or testimony over a party’s objection.

Oral Arguments

All oral arguments before the Iowa Supreme Court in March and April have been cancelled and those cases will proceed and be decided without oral argument.

All oral arguments before the Iowa Court of Appeals in April and May will be continued.

Statutes of Limitation

Every Iowa statute of limitations, or similar deadline for commencing an action, is extended by 76 days from March 17 to June 1.  

Signatures on Civil Court Documents

Any person may now sign civil court documents electronically with “/s/” followed by the person’s typed full name or “/person’s name/.”

Attorneys may sign these documents for clients with /s/ as long as the attorney has been given at least oral verification from the client that (a) the client agrees to sign the document, (b) the attorney is authorized to do so on the client’s behalf, (c) the client understands that the signature will bind the client as if the client had signed it personally.

Criminal Trials

State criminal trials scheduled to begin before April 20 have been continued and rescheduled to a date on or after April 20.

Criminal jury trials in the Northern District scheduled on or before April 24, are continued pending further order from the court.

Criminal jury trials in the Southern District scheduled on or before May 4, are continued pending further order from the court.

Non-jury criminal proceedings in the Northern District shall proceed as scheduled unless continued by the judge. Telephone or video conference may be used.

Non-jury criminal proceedings in the Southern District may proceed subject to the judge’s discretion.

For information on how COVID-19 affects Jury Summons, Forcible Entry and Detainer cases, Child Welfare, Juvenile Court Services, or Continuing Legal Education, please see this link, and the links below.

If you have any questions regarding courthouse scheduling and proceedings, please reach out to your BrownWinick attorney or submit a message through our Contact Us form. For updates on COVID-19 and new guidance provided by BrownWinick attorneys, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Page.

Relevant links:

Iowa Supreme Court March 12 Supervisory Order

Iowa Supreme Court March 13 Supervisory Order

Iowa Supreme Court March 14 Supervisory Order

Iowa Supreme Court March 16 Supervisory Order

Iowa Supreme Court March 17 Supervisory Order

Bench Guide for Juvenile Court Judges, March 20

March 23 Summary of Modifications to Court Procedures and Judicial Branch Operations (State Court)

Southern District of Iowa March 16 Grand Jury Order

Southern District of Iowa March 16 Trial Order

Southern District of Iowa March 23 Hearings Order

Northern District of Iowa Public Administrative Orders