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Williamson County Courthouse moves to Phase 3 Monday

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MARION (WSIL) -- Businesses aren't the only ones seeing welcomed changes as Illinois enters Phase 3 of the Gov. JB Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan.

Williamson County Circuit Clerk Andrew Wilson says the courthouse has been limiting hearings to emergency cases since the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown.

"Orders of protection, things with abused and neglected children, also known as shelter care, those types of situations, those hearings were still held in the courthouse."

Over the past several months, they've also been able to use technology to process those in custody of the jail next door.

"Those preliminary hearings where you're in custody, those need to be held within 30 days of your arrest. So those have still been held, but they've also be held where the defendant's still over in the jail. That can be held, they're able to see the judge, the witnesses, they're able to really be involved in court, without having to be in this building."

Chief Deputy Clerk Rachel Moake says procedures are in place to keep whoever must be in the building safe.

"It's been a learning curve of how to adjust to the changes. You know, we are wearing masks, anyone that's coming into the courthouse is asked to wear a mask. They're checking temperatures at the door, of course."

Wilson says on Monday the courthouse will resume holding traffic and small claims court.

"They are going to be abiding the 10 people in a courtroom rule. So traffic court at 9 a.m. will have actually have 32 cases, eight in four different courtrooms."

"We do feel safe, we do feel secure here. We just ask that everyone try to obey by the rules," says Moake.

"It'll be a little bit different situation than we've had in the past, but we will still be able to hold court," says Wilson.

Wilson adds that any unnecessary visitors attending court with those who have a case may be asked to wait outside of the courthouse.

John Ross

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