Lee County Presiding Judge Jacquelyn Ackert has announced changes in procedures as part of the court’s gradual reopening. Overall, the goal of the changes is to allow more people in the Lee County Courts Building. At the same time, the judges wish to limit the number of people in the courthouse and reduce the risk of virus spread.
The biggest change is that judges are encouraging remote hearings by Zoom for many civil matters. Other changes include requirements that persons socially distance in courtrooms and wear masks when in the building. To preserve surgical masks for local health care workers, Ackert asks that people bring their own masks whenever possible.
In addition, persons who are not attorneys, parties or witnesses or who do not otherwise have essential business in the building will be denied entry, unless they have the Presiding Judge’s permission to attend a hearing or conduct other business.
The judges also are rescheduling court calls that typically require many people to appear in court at the same time. Some of these calls are being postponed to later in the year, while others are being staggered or otherwise rescheduled. Ackert said. “If anyone is unsure when his or her case is scheduled – be it civil or criminal – we suggest he or she contact his or her attorney, the Circuit Clerk’s office or Bonnie Rodriguez at (815) 284-5258 to determine the correct date.