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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Courthouses Remain Open With Precautions; Fellheimer Re-Elected Chief Judge

Mark Fellheimer
Emily Bollinger
/
WGLT
Chief Judge Mark Fellheimer during the swearing-in of new McLean County Board members this week.

Reinforced precautions are in place at Eleventh Judicial Circuit courthouses, including in McLean County, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jury trials have been halted for December, and a shift to remote hearings has expanded whenever possible. But the courthouses remain open.

In McLean County, about half of the courtrooms at the Law and Justice Center are now being conducted remotely for a wide variety of matters to avoid unnecessary in-person interactions. That includes status hearings and temporary relief hearings.

However, not all cases can be conducted remotely. People who enter a courthouse must wear a face-covering and maintain social distancing. Other precautions include:

  • Case limits per hour for each courtroom to limit the number of people in the courthouses.
  • Entry is denied for anyone who is exhibiting COVID-like symptoms with screening procedures at the courthouse entrances.
  • The reallocation of courtrooms to eliminate congregations of people in the courthouses.
  • Elimination of lines for the circuit clerk’s office to eliminate congregations of people in the hallways.
  • Litigants are strongly discouraged from bringing others with them to the courthouse.

Chief judge re-elected

Meanwhile, Mark Fellheimer has been re-elected to a second term as chief judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit.

Fellheimer became chief judge in 2018. He has general administrative authority over the courts and judicial assignments in the circuit, including the recent COVID precautions.

“I am humbled that my colleagues have the trust and confidence in me to serve another term as chief judge," Fellheimer said in a statement. "I am fortunate to come to work each day to work with judges who are innovative, creative and compassionate, in addition to a staff that is dedicated to carrying out the important work of the judiciary. To say the least, navigating through the pandemic has been a challenging year for everyone, including the courts. We are hopeful that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and look forward to a little normalcy returning in 2021."

The Eleventh Judicial Circuit includes McLean, Livingston, Ford, Logan and Woodford counties.

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Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.
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