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MARION COUNTY, Ind.–Traffic court in Marion County is one of the many things the coronavirus has changed.

“We normally have hundreds of people there per session. Many of those individuals are representing themselves and so they have to have face-to-face interactions with the court staff, the prosecutor, the public defender, and the judge. We have to cut down on the number of people who are in traffic court,” said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears to Indy Politics.

Mears says officers can give people a ticket for operating without a license or they can file a misdemeanor case. Mears would prefer the ticket option if possible.

“If you write the ticket, the great thing about that is you can resolve it online, through the mail, or going to the clerk’s office. We’re not really giving anything up and we’re also preventing people from coming down to traffic court and limiting those individual one-on-one interactions which likely leads to the spread of this virus. It’s one of the things we’re encouraging police to do,” Mears said.

But Mears says police are still going to make arrests in serious cases. The pandemic, however, has caused a bigger challenge.

“We can’t do trials. We continue to file cases, but we’re not resolving very many because we’re not in a position to do jury trials or bench trials. That’s the biggest issue for us,” Mears continued.

That hasn’t caused any constitutional issues at this point, but Mears says the Prosecutor’s Office and other county leaders are trying to figure out how to safely conduct trials again.

“It’s very difficult to practice social distancing with how we currently conduct jury trials. We’re having to go back and start from scratch and try to figure out a way to create a safe environment for everybody involved,” Mears said.

Mears is grateful they made upgrades to some technology before the pandemic hit Marion County.

“We were able to equip pretty much everyone in our office with a laptop. We have pretty good technological infrastructure in place where people can access their files. We can continue to file cases and keep victims up to date on what’s going on,” Mears said.