COVID-19 has undoubtedly interrupted life in America. This disruption has seeped into everyday processes that many of us have taken for granted – including our court and judicial systems. Recent guidelines announced by Governor Newson will certainly create a logistical nightmare for all California court administrators. Courts are now having to negotiate how existing court cases are processed, if and when new cases are accepted and even California’s long-standing jury selection and system for those on jury duty. All of these normal court functions result in people being gathered in large groups and, as a consequence, encourage the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Information in this article last updated April 6, 2020

As of the writing of this article, California’s Governor has exempted certain governmental functions that are “essential” to the function of the state of California. What this means, however, is unclear; and how it is implemented can change daily. Most certainly, individuals over age 65 will be excused from jury service based on a hardship basis.  If you are over 60, and scheduled for jury duty, we encourage you to call your county jury office to reschedule or request an exemption. With this in mind, in is not inconceivable, however, that the entire jury selection process may ultimately be suspended and many court cases put on hold indefinitely.

Read on to learn what you need to know about how these changes may affect your legal case.

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Covid-19 is Changing California Court Services

Courts administrations are making hard decisions for the safety of the public. These decisions include declared court holidays, suspension of trials and delays in the processing and filings of court documents. As of this moment, although courts are still open across California, we are aware of the following changes to California’s courts due to COVID-19.

Important Links:

  • To access a particular California court’s website, click here.
  • For an overview of how courts are processing filings, this chart put together by One Legal is a great reference tool.
  • This article provides a collection of all of the emergency orders as organized by the Judicial Branch of California Courts and includes links to Orders implemented by various California Superior Courts.

Alameda: Superior Court closes all courthouses to the public March 17 through April 7 in support of the county’s shelter in place order. 3/14/20: All civil jury trials, time-waived misdemeanor jury trials, and time-waived felony out-of-custody jury trials set between March 16 and April 3 will be continued on a rolling basis for 8 weeks from the currently scheduled trial date.

Alpine: 3/17/2020 Superior Court reschedules all hearings for May, with the exception of criminal matters that have statutory time constraints.

Amador: 3/18/2020 Superior Court closes until April 6 except for certain matters  and suspends jury trials until that date.

Butte: 3/18/20 Superior Court vacates all criminal trials for 30 days.

Colusa: 3/20/20 Superior Court is closed with exceptions through April 3.

Contra Costa: 3/13/2020 Superior Court announces the closure of its courts until April 1. The county is one of the hardest hit in the Bay Area by COVID-19.

Del Norte: 3/20/20 Superior Court closes through April 1. All criminal and civil trials are suspended through April 17.

El Dorado: 3/18/20 Superior Court vacates all jury trials scheduled from March 17 through April 16.

Fresno: 3/19/20 Superior Court, all jury trials are continued no more than 30 days.

Glenn: Superior Court continues to May 26 criminal jury trials set between March 23 and April 22.

Humboldt: 3/17/2020 Superior Court closes March 17 through March 20.  3/20/20 Superior Court closes courthouses to the public. All public hearings will be broadcast live until further notice.

Imperial: Superior Court will close with exceptions from March 23 through March 31. Jury trials are suspended for 30 days.

Inyo: 3/18/2020 Superior Court vacates jury trials through April 13.

Kings: 3/18/20 Superior Court, all trials will be continued 30 days from March 18 through April 17.

Lake: 3/18/2020 Superior Court is closed through April 1.

Los Angeles: All courtrooms will be closed for judicial business from March 20 until April 16, except for certain time-sensitive essential functions. 3/17/2020 All matters on calendar in the Probate Division except hearings on temporary guardianship petitions, temporary conservatorship petitions and temporary restraining orders involving elders now set for March 17, 2020 through April 16, 2020, have been continued by the Court. No appearance in court is allowed for those hearings. The parties shall receive further notice stating the specific time and date of the continuances in their case.

Superior Court announces it will close March 17 through March 19. The court will reopen on March 20 “for the limited purpose of handling essential or emergency matters.” 3/15/20: Los Angeles County Superior Court announces that no new jurors will be summoned for civil or criminal jury trials for the next 30 days. 3/20/20 Los Angeles County Superior Court reopens for essential and emergency functions.

Marin: 3/19/20 Superior Court closes for non-essential matters until April 7.

Modoc: 3/17/2020 Superior Court vacates all jury trials scheduled to commence on or before April 13.

Mono: 3/18/20 Superior Court vacates all jury trials set for April.

Monterey: 3/18/2020 Superior Court suspends all non-essential functions through April 3.

Napa: 3/18/2020 Superior Court is closed to the public through April 10 except for time-sensitive or emergency matters.

Nevada: 3/13/2020 Superior Court, all civil and criminal jury trials scheduled to commence between March 17 and April 14 are vacated, excepting only criminal trials in which time has not been waived.

Orange: Superior Court will be closed from March 17 through March 27. 3/13/2020: Superior Court will “significantly reduce” the number of jurors summoned to serve in all trials and suspends all unlimited civil jury trials until May 1.

Placer: 3/17/2020 Superior Court’s Auburn courthouse is closed until April 13.

Riverside: 3/19/20 Superior Court closes eight courthouses and continues all criminal jury trials for 14 days.

Sacramento: 3/17/2020 Superior Court is closed until April 16, except for certain essential functions.

San Bernardino: Superior Court closes most courthouses March 17 through April 2. 3/13/2020: Superior Court will prioritize criminal trials over civil trials “if there is a reduction in the availability of jury panels.” Civil trials will be suspended for the next 30 days.

San Diego: Superior Court suspends all non-emergency services from March 17 through April. 3/13/2020: Superior Court postpones civil jury trials set to commence on or before March 31. The postponement does not apply to unlawful detainer trials.

San Francisco: 3/13/2020 Superior Court, civil jury trials will continue for 90 days from the date they have been scheduled. Exceptions will be preference cases and trials already in progress.

Santa Barbara: Most courts in Santa Barbara County Superior Court will be closed through April 3.

San Benito: 3/18/2020 Superior Court suspends civil jury trials until May 4.

Santa Clara: Superior Court, effective March 16 through April 5, the following matters will be rescheduled: civil and probate jury and court trials (except for ongoing trials); small claims motions, trials, and appeals; most traffic matters; many family hearings; most guardianship and adoption proceedings; many criminal trials; and unlawful detainer matters.

San Mateo: Superior Court suspends all trials for up to 30 days and will be closed to the public March 17 through April 7.

Sierra: 3/18/2020 Superior Court closes “until further notice.”

Sonoma: Superior Court announces it will close March 16 through April 3.

Tehama: 3/19/2020 The Superior Court is closed through April 3 with a few exceptions.

Trinity: 3/20/2020 Superior Court will close March 23 through April 17.

Tuolomne: 3/20/20  Superior Court reschedules all jury trials set between March 23 and April 22.

Ventura: 3/13/2020 Superior Court will be closed March 16-18. Edelivery is currently closed until further notice due to court closures. 3/20/20 Court will continue limited operations through April 17.

Other Courts:

  • The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California suspends all new criminal and civil jury trials until May 1 All courthouses to the general public will be closed until May 1, 2020.

  • 3/17/2020 The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California suspends jury trials until April 16.
  • 3/17/2020 The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California will not call in jurors for civil or criminal jury trials until April 13.
  • 3/17/2020 The U.S. District Court for the U.S. Eastern District of California will not call in jurors for civil or criminal jury trials until May 1.
  • The Ninth Circuit is evaluating, one at a time, all oral arguments on the schedule for March, April, and May “and will issue orders in those cases giving direction to the parties.” The court will consider all non-jurisdictional filing dates “as needed.” The Ninth Circuit moves oral arguments scheduled in Seattle from March 30 to April 3 to Pasadena.
  • California Superior Court – Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of California Superior Court issues guidance to California trial courts in California regarding emergency orders to adjust or suspend court operations, noting that the state’s judicial branch “is facing an unprecedented challenge with the COVID-19 virus.”  In-person oral arguments are suspended by California Superior Court until “deemed prudent to resume normal measures.” Attorney and Counsel are ordered to appear electronically. Arguments will still be open to the public with limited seating “to achieve appropriate distancing.”  3/20/20 The California Supreme Court extends all proceedings for 30 days.
  • 3/19/2020 The California Supreme Court expands mandatory electronic filing of all documents, including briefs.
  • 3/18/2020 California’s Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board suspends temporarily certain rules of practice and procedure to support several counties’ shelter in place orders. District offices are closed for filing until April 3, so all filing deadlines are extended to after that period.

Making Your Court Appearance by Telephone in the COVID-19 Crisis

If you do have a court appearance that is going to go forward, we would strongly recommend that you try to appear “by phone.” Many of our clients already use Court Call to schedule appearing telephonically at their hearing. As recommended on the Court Call website, it is recommended that you verify with the court if your scheduled hearing is still going forward before scheduling with Court Call.  You can also send requests and inquiries to assist@courtcall.com, and should include the date of your appearance on the email subject line. Court Call is also providing pandemic updates here.

The World Will Pull Together and Survive This Crisis

A People’s Choice is mindful of the stress that this may put on our clients. We recognize that this outbreak of the coronavirus has most certainly put all Americans and the entire world on edge. We are in uncharted territory, and circumstances seem to change every day. Clients of A People’s Choice can be confident that we are taking every precaution possible to keep our clients and our employees safe.

As an online company that has gone “paperless,” employees can easily work remotely if necessary. This means there will be no disruption in any services required of our staff to keep our clients’ cases moving through the court system, even with the daily and changing disruptions in the normal California court processes. We have, however, made a few changes.

  • We no longer offer in-office appointments until further notice.
  • For the protection of our employees, only staff can access the office.
  • We are implementing aggressive daily sanitation of all hard surfaces.

All of these procedures are to keep our staff virus-free and able to focus on the work at hand. If you have any questions about your case, please do not hesitate to email us or call the office. Thank you and remember to wash your hands regularly and be conscious of reasonable social distancing. We will do everything possible to keep you updated with these daily changes with the court system.

 

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