LOS ANGELES – Pointing out that the courthouses in Los Angeles County were not designed architecturally for ‘social disdaining,’ the presiding judge of the Superior Court announced Monday that some trials face further delays.
Judge Kevin C. Brazile announced in a statement that he has ordered postponements in civil jury trials until January of 2012 with exceptions for non-jury civil trials excluding small claims and traffic court trials postponed until November 16.
Brazile’s order will allow some criminal proceedings to move forward in September and after October 5 in cases that can be heard by a judge without a jury and in full compliance with public health orders on social distancing and facial covering protocols.
“The Los Angeles 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,” Brazile said. “Courthouses are not designed to facilitate social distancing given their fixed configuration.”
Brazile also noted that remote courtroom solutions that would allow some hearings to proceed are being considered although in criminal proceedings the defense must consent. Additionally, because of California’s legal mandates as well as ethics, there will be some appearances that would not be able to utilize the remote option.
Regarding remote hearings in civil matters Brazile noted, “The court cannot mandate remote appearances in civil trials due to logistical and evidentiary issues.”
Brazile also noted that all non-jury trials scheduled from Monday to Sept. 8 — other than small claims and traffic trials and any case statutorily required to proceed — are continued until further notice.
Family law evidentiary proceedings, other than restraining order hearings, that can be completed within two court days may be held. Otherwise, such proceedings cannot commence before Nov. 20, except as authorized by the supervising judge.
Most LA County dependency hearings have been held virtually since June 22
Prescheduled appointments are required for in-person services from the Clerk’s Office, court support services, and/or the Self-Help Centers. Appointments may be made the same day for persons seeking Restraining Orders who have completed paperwork and arrive at the courthouse no later than 3 p.m.
For telephone or video assistance, or to schedule an appointment, the telephone number for each courthouse is listed at the courthouse entrance and posted on the Court’s website (www.lacourt.org).
Access to proceedings shall be limited to the judicial officer presiding, Court personnel, parties, counsel, witnesses and those members of the public (including news reporters/media representatives) who can be accommodated in the designated courtroom while enforcing mandatory social distancing of at least six (6) feet.
The determination of courtroom capacity shall be made by the Judge or Commissioner presiding in the courtroom.
Parties and counsel are strongly urged to avoid in-person appearances and make use of technology to appear remotely whenever possible.
Judicial officers are urged to avoid in-person hearings to the greatest extent possible and to use technology to conduct hearings and other court proceedings remotely for the duration of the state emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, when the interests of justice require, judicial officers, retain the discretion to require in-person appearances.
For more information visit: (www.lacourt.org)