After nearly thirteen months, civil jury trials in Cook County are set to resume. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, civil jury trials have all but stopped in Cook County courts. However, Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans and Law Division Presiding Judge James P. Flannery, Jr. have each issued administrative orders allowing civil jury trials to resume.
On March 23, 2021, Chief Judge Evans issued an amended administrative order, G.A.O. 2020-07, which set May 3, 2021 as the target date for resuming jury trials. Cook County Cir. Ct. G.A.O. 2020-07, § 1.a.iv. (eff. Mar. 23, 2021). The order says that jury trials may be held in all departments and divisions and can be conducted either in person, by videoconference, or through some combination of the two. Id. at § 1.a.iv.3. Those decisions will be made at the discretion of the presiding judge, resources and public health guidelines permitting. Id. at § 1.a.iv.
On April 1, 2021, Presiding Judge Flannery, Jr. issued G.A.O. 21-1, which set out the process for rescheduling jury trials. Under the order, jury trials will be rescheduled starting with the cases originally set for trial on March 17, 2020. Cook County Law Division G.A.O. 21-1, 1 (eff. Apr. 1, 2021). The court will then set jury trials chronologically based on their original trial dates. Id. Court dates are left to the discretion of Presiding Judge James P. Flannery, Jr. Id. The parties will receive a minimum of 30 days' notice prior to a jury trial commencing. Id.
Commentators have proposed that the courts likely will hear fewer jury trials than they did pre-COVID 19, as courts will be unable to use rooms that are not conducive to social distancing. See Marc Karlinsky, Cook Co. to Restart Civil Jury Trials May 3, Chi. Daily L. Bull. (Mar. 25, 2021), https://www.chicagolaw bulletin.com/law-division-trials-resume-20210407 (quoting a spokeswoman for Chief Judge Evans).
If attending an in-person proceeding, remember that the Circuit Court of Cook County requires all persons in the courthouse to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask or face covering, Cook County Cir. Ct. G.A.O. 2020-07, 1-2 (eff. Mar. 23, 2021), and familiarize yourself with other COVID-19 related rules and procedures.
For more information on the Illinois and Cook County courts' response to the COVID-19 pandemic, consult Jenner & Block's COVID-19 Companion Guide to the Illinois Civil Practice Guide. For more information generally on civil practice in Illinois courts, consult Jenner & Block's 2021 Illinois Civil Practice Guide.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.