ALLEN SUPERIOR COURT CIVIL DIVISION OPERATIONAL UPDATE
April 22, 2020
This operational update is provided on April 22, 2020. by Allen Superior Court Civil Division Judges David J. Avery, Craig J. Bobay, Nancy E. Boyer, and Jennifer L. DeGroote. This version replaces the Operational Update released on March 26, 2020.
• As Governor Holcomb’s March 23, 2020 Executive Order 20-08 (“Directive For Hoosiers To Stay At Home”) states, judges and court personnel perform “Essential Government Functions,” and are exempt from the Governor’s “Stay at Home” Order. The Allen Superior Court Civil Division and its employees are working. All e-filed motions, pleadings, claims, complaints, notices, stipulations, proposed orders, and other documents filed with the Court continue to be regularly reviewed and timely processed by the Allen Superior Court Civil Division.
• Jury trials. No jury trials will be held as long as the COVID-19 health emergency exists. The Judges of the Civil Division have entered, and will be entering appropriate orders concerning the use of juries in individual cases.
• Other Civil Division Hearings and Bench Trials. With the exception of jury trials, the Civil Division of the Court is generally conducting the regular business of the Court by remote telephonic appearance, and by video conferences in specific instances. The Court has issued Orders informing the parties and counsel that they must arrange to appear at most hearings by telephone. The Court has also issued Orders informing the parties and counsel that they must arrange to appear at bench trials and other evidentiary proceedings by video conference. The Court is issuing specific orders for telephonic and video court appearances and related procedures in each individual case. The Court is issuing specific orders for continuances in individual cases as the parties agree and as the Court deems proper.
• Protection Orders. The Small Claims Court in the Courthouse Annex (located at 1 W. Superior St. in Fort Wayne) 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.
• Civil Mediation. All civil mediations may be conducted by telephone or video conference, as directed by the assigned mediator and as agreed to by the parties. All in-person mediations must adhere to strict social distancing standards.
• Probate and Guardianship. 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.
• Small Claims Court Trials. Trials in the Small Claims Court in the Courthouse Annex are being conducted by remote telephonic appearance. The Small Claims Court is issuing specific orders for telephonic court appearances and procedures, and where proper, for continuances, in each individual case.
• Collections and Garnishment. The Court has issued its separate “Collections Process Protocol” this same date. That Protocol addresses garnishment, garnishment reduction, exemptions, banking institution proceedings supplemental, wage attachment, and protection of CARES Act stimulus payments from attachment or garnishment. Questions regarding the Collections Process Protocol and Small Claims cases in particular can be directed to: email@example.com.
• Residential Foreclosures and Evictions. Consistent with Gov. Holcomb’s Emergency Order, all residential foreclosure and residential eviction proceedings are temporarily stayed. 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 and vacates the residence, then 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; and no other action is now being taken on these matters.
• Default Judgments. The Indiana Supreme Court issued an Order on March 17, 2020, captioned, “In the Matter of the Petition of the Allen Circuit and Superior Courts for Administrative Rule 17 Emergency Relief.” The Supreme Court subsequently issued another Order extending the time period of the emergency relief. The Supreme Court’s Orders tolled all time limits in all Allen County civil and criminal cases effective March 16, 2020. Pursuant to those Orders, and absent agreement, Motions for Default Judgment cannot now be granted in Allen County cases where Answers to Complaints should otherwise have been filed by March 16, 2020, or later. At some point in the future, the Supreme Court will end that stay, and then upon the running of the appropriate extended period of time to Answer the Complaint, if Defendant’s Answer has still not been timely filed, Plaintiff may file a Second Motion for Default Judgment.
• The Court retains its discretion to proceed in manners other than as set out above, as justice requires.