This week's snow emergency means people arrested over the weekend or Monday possibly had to wait a little longer than usual for their probable cause hearing, and other court hearings scheduled for Monday will be delayed until later this week or rescheduled, a local judge said.
The Allen County Circuit and Superior courts were among many government offices closed Monday because of the winter storm, which dumped about 10 inches of snow Saturday night and Sunday on Fort Wayne before giving way to subzero temperatures.
Circuit and Superior judges will take action on weekend arrests and Monday's cases quickly when the courts reopen, said Allen Superior Court Judge Craig J. Bobay, who was contacted at home.
The law normally requires that, within 48 hours, a criminal court judge or magistrate must go to the Allen County Jail to review charging documents filed against a person held under arrest at the jail, said Bobay, who served as a Circuit Court magistrate before being appointed an Allen Superior Court civil division judge in July.
The judge or magistrate must determine whether probable cause exists for the arrest, Bobay said. If there is probable cause, the judge or magistrate must set bond. If there is no probable cause, the person must be released from jail.
However, the requirement to review charging documents within 48 hours doesn't apply in a state of emergency, Bobay said. The Allen County Commissioners declared a weather emergency Sunday through Monday evening, which restricted travel to emergency personnel only.
When the courts reopen, which could be Tuesday, criminal court judges likely will try to squeeze some Monday hearings into their existing case schedules during the rest of the week, Bobay said. The hearings held quickly likely would be those that don't require witnesses, such as guilty pleas and some hearings on motions.
Trials and hearings involving witnesses probably will have to be rescheduled for later dates when witnesses and attorneys are available, he said.
Civil court judges likely will take the same approach with cases that had been scheduled for action Monday in their courtrooms, he said.
For example, Bobay plans to assess what hearings need to take place first, and he will try to work them into his schedule soon. He will reschedule other hearings for later dates.
Allen Circuit and Superior judges also have the option of seeking help from senior judges -- retired judges who can be called upon a certain number of days per year to assist in hearing cases, Bobay said.
Using senior judges would be more likely, however, in a longer emergency situation that created greater disruption of the courts' schedules, he said.