|Some Criminal Trials May Start in September
Civil Jury Trials Continued until January 2021; Civil Non-Jury Trials May Not Commence Before Nov. 16 Under Terms of New Order
Some Unlawful Detainer Non-Jury Trials & Non-Jury Trials in Preference Cases May Begin on or After Oct. 5 in Compliance with Social Distancing Protocols
Today, Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile executed a General Order to extend enumerated legal proceedings in Civil, Family, Probate, Juvenile and Criminal Divisions of the Court based on Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye’s approval of the Court’s request for emergency powers under Government Code section 68115. Today’s Order seeks to balance the need to increase the Court’s workload while keeping courthouses safe by reducing in-person appearances as COVID-19 rates of infections continue to increase in Los Angeles County.
“The Los Angles County Department of Public Health has expressed concerns to the Court about commencing jury trials and bringing jurors into County courthouses given the current COVID-19 numbers and trends,” Presiding Judge Brazile said.
While the Court has expedited an ambitious roll-out this summer of remote courtroom appearance solutions, Judge Brazile noted that “courthouses are not designed to facilitate social distancing given their fixed configuration.” While the Court has made technology available to judicial officers to hold remote hearings, the Court – for legal and ethical reasons – cannot mandate remote appearances in every case.
“The Court cannot mandate remote appearances in criminal proceedings because emergency California Rules of Court Rules 3 and 5 for the most part authorize remote proceedings only where the defendant consents,” Presiding Judge Brazile explained. Further, Presiding Judge Brazile noted, “The Court cannot mandate remote appearances in Civil trials due to logistical and evidentiary issues.”
Since Dependency courts reopened on June 22, 2020, the vast majority of proceedings have been held remotely. However, social distancing mandates have strictly limited the number of cases each Dependency courtroom may hear daily. As a result, today’s Order allows judicial officers to continue Dependency cases consistent with the Dependency Prioritization Plan, which “prioritizes Dependency cases for judicial officers to hear as quickly as circumstances allow in light of COVID-19,” Presiding Judge Brazile said.
All non-jury trials, except Small Claims and Traffic trials, unless statutorily required otherwise, including in General Civil, Criminal, Mental Health, and Probatescheduled from August 10, 2020 to September 8, 2020, inclusive, are continued until further notice. Civil non-jury trials shall not be set to commence before November 16, 2020, except Small Claims and Traffic trials, which resumed today.
Family Law evidentiary proceedings, whether Family Code section 217 hearings or trials, other than Restraining Order hearings, that may be completed within two court days may be held. Family Law evidentiary proceedings expected to exceed two court days, shall not commence before November 20, 2020, except as authorized by the Supervising Judge of Family Law.
Under the Order, and to safeguard the well-being of court users and enforce social distancing:
The Court’s Here For You | Safe For You initiative is designed to provide a safe courthouse environment while offering services that allow court business to be conducted remotely. Information on Here For You | Safe For You can be found here and on the Court’s Twitter page (@LASuperiorCourt).
|View the full notice here.
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