NEW FUNDING AIMED AT REDUCING CRIMINAL CASE BACKLOGS

November 30, 2021 – The LASC will receive $9.2 million in funding from the new Early Disposition Program (EDP) to address criminal case backlogs and delays.

The funding comes under an allocation plan approved by the Judicial Council of California. The funds will be leveraged in conjunction with the Temporary Assigned Judges Program (TAJP) that will provide additional judicial and staff resources to address COVID-related delays in Criminal cases as the Court reduces reliance on emergency orders and continuances.

For more details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/21-NR-EARLY-DISPOSITION-PROGRAM.pdf

 

LASC VACCINE MANDATE TAKES EFFECT

October 18, 2021 – After notifying employees they had 45 days to get fully vaccinated on or before October 7 as a condition of employment, approximately 99 percent of the nation’s largest trial court’s employees have provided proof of full vaccination or requested a medical or religious exemption as required under the Court’s mandatory vaccination policy.

The vaccine mandate, which took effect August 23, did not include judicial officers, as they are state Constitutional Officers and not employees of the Court.

However, Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor indicated that judicial officers are equally supportive of the vaccination effort, and that most judges are participating by voluntarily reporting their vaccination status. The Court was one of the first public sector employers in the state of California to announce a mandatory vaccination policy for its workforce.

For full details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/21-NR-Vaccinations.pdf 

 

LASC EXTENDS DEADLINES FOR SOME CRIMINAL MATTERS

September 26, 2021 – Amending a previous General Order, the Los Angeles Superior Court has extended the deadlines for certain criminal matters by an additional two weeks, September 26, 2021, to October 9, 2021.

The Order also states that all persons―regardless of vaccination status―are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth while in a Los Angeles County courthouse.

Persons whose disabilities preclude them from wearing face coverings compliant with the guidance “are urged to seek an accommodation” under Rule 1.100 of the California Rules of Court in advance of their court appearance or appointment.

For full details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/21-NR-AMENDED-GO-9-23-21.pdf

 

SOME CRIMINAL AND JUVENILE DEADLINES EXTENDED

September 16, 2021 – A new LASC General Order has been issued that extends certain Criminal and Juvenile deadlines as the Court balances access to justice with its commitment to safeguard the well-being of court users.

The extension comes as the Court ’s application for relief, which will assist the Court to safely continue its careful restoration of court operations as the highly infectious Delta variant continues to spread in LA County, was recently granted by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil Sakauye.

The new Order also states that in accordance with General Order 2021-GEN-023-00, all persons – regardless of vaccination status – are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth while in a courthouse.

In addition, it mandates that persons seeking services from the Clerk’s Office, court support services, and/or the Self -Help Centers are encouraged to schedule appointments.

For full details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Deadlines.pdf

 

MANDATORY EFILING OF SOME CASES MANDATED

September 9, 2021 – The Los Angeles Superior Court Complex Civil Division will implement mandatory electronic filing (efiling) for Complex cases beginning Monday, September 20, 2021.

Efiling provides efficiencies and enhances the Court’s ability to maintain complete and easily accessible records.

As previously announced, the Court will offer virtual informational meetings for attorneys, legal professionals and Electronic Filing Service Providers (EFSPs) next week to provide detailed information and answer questions.

For meeting details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/21-NTA_Complex-Efiling.pdf

 

LASC RELAXED FREE CODE EXTENDED

September 7, 2021 – Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor has announced the extension of the Court’s relaxed dress code policy, first implemented on April 1, 2020, in light of the continued fluctuation trends in COVID-19 numbers in Los Angeles County.

“The Court will remain flexible in its professional dress code,” Judge Taylor said. “While not fully returning to formal business attire, all authorized persons, including, but not limited to prosecutors, public defenders, and private attorneys, should dress courtroom appropriate whether appearing in person or remotely.”

For full details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/21_NR_DRESS_CODE_POLICY.pdf

 

LACourtCONNECT FEE WAIVED

August 23, 2021 – The LASC has said it will waive the $15 cost recovery fee for all hearings beginning Tuesday, September 7 for LACourtConnect (LACC), its remote courtroom appearance technology.

The Court has elected to devote some of the one-time state budget funds provided by the State Legislature for COVID-related backlogs to cover the cost of LACC for all litigants to encourage the use of remote appearances. It is strongly felt that the move will greatly assist the Court in addressing its backlog of pending cases.

Providing LACC at no cost, the Court said, will also help in its ongoing efforts to strongly encourage remote appearances, especially as the Delta variant increases COVID-19 transmission in Los Angeles County.

For more details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/21-NR-LACC-WAIVED-FEE.pdf

 

NEW LASC MANDATORY VACCINATION POLICY

August 10, 2021 – The Los Angeles Superior Court, the largest trial court in the nation, will require its 4,600 employees to get vaccinated as a condition of employment no later than 45 days after the U. S. Food & Drug Administration gives final approval to at least one COVID-19 vaccine.

The Court has continuously required face masks since June 2020 without interruption. While social distancing is no longer required because of the change in guidance from state, county and federal public health agencies, the Court strongly urges attorneys to appear remotely for hearings and urges the public to make appointments for Self-Help and Clerk’s Office services.

For full details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/21_NR_Employee_Vaccinations.pdf

 

NEW LASC COVID-19 COURTROOM PROTOCOLS

August 2, 2021 – Effective immediately, attorneys, justice partners and the public are mandated to wear masks and “vigilantly follow” COVID-19 protocols in courthouses, according to the latest General Order issued by the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor today implored all court users to comply with the Court’s mandatory face mask requirement and other public health guidance to protect everyone seeking and delivering justice in the County’s courthouses “as the delta variant spreads more widely in L. A. County.”

For complete details of the new General Order, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/21-NR-COVID_Protocols.pdf

 

DEADLINE FOR SOME CASES EXTENDED BY TWO WEEKS

July 21, 2021 – The Los Angeles Superior Court has announced a 2-week extension of deadlines for certain Criminal cases and a 4-week extension for juvenile dependency proceedings, marking a measured shift in court operations to help the Court and its users recover from caseloads impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, the California Supreme Court granted the Superior Court of Los Angeles County’s application for relief which sought authority to extend Criminal deadlines by four (4) weeks with a plan to open trial courts more fully while retaining the flexibility to address the logjam of pending trials now before a limited number of trial courtrooms.

LASC Presiding Judge Taylor has elected to issue an initial order within this framework extending Criminal deadlines by two (2) weeks to provide notice to judicial officers, justice partners and the parties, and providing them an opportunity to plan and prepare for the work ahead.

Meanwhile, the Court will monitor courtroom capacity limits against trial demands, while carefully watching local COVID trends and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LA DPH) advisories and orders.

Presiding Judge Taylor encouraged all court users to comply with public health mandates as Los Angeles County experiences a noticeable increase in reported COVID-19 cases that prompted the LADPH to issue more restrictive indoor mask policies for all persons, regardless of vaccination status.

For complete details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/21-NR-July-19-GO-with-Order.pdf

 

NO SOCIAL DISTANCING AT COUNTY COURTHOUSES

June 28, 2021 – Effective today, Monday, June 28, 2021, L. A. County courthouses will operate without any public access restrictions, eliminating the requirement for advance appointments for service as well as the need to make an online request for in-person courtroom seating, according to a new General Order issued by the Los Angeles Superior Court.

However, face masks will remain mandatory inside all courthouses in compliance with Cal/OSHA workplace standards.

The new G. O., in effect, eliminates social distancing in public spaces and also encourages the public seeking services from the Clerk’s Office, court support services, and/or the Self-Help Centers to continue scheduling advance appointments to reduce lines.

For complete details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/21-NR-JUNE-28-2021-GO.pdf

 

NEW MASK, SOCIAL DISTANCING ORDER

June 21, 2021 – Face masks and social distancing remain in effect in all L. A. County courthouses until further notice, according to the latest General Order issued by the Los Angeles Superior Court.

To avoid confusion, as the state and county public health departments change their COVID-19 protocols, the general public, including all who visit and work in County courthouses, is being asked to continue to follow the Court’s face mask and social distancing requirements.

The new G.O. requires all persons entering any courthouse or courtroom to wear a face mask over their nose and mouth at all times within public areas of the courthouse or courtroom; non-exempt individuals who decline or refuse to wear a face mask will be denied entry to the courthouse and/or courtroom.

Individuals who remove their face masks after entering the courthouse or courtroom will be reminded to wear them. If they refuse, they may be denied services, may have their legal matters rescheduled and/or will be asked to leave the courthouse or courtroom immediately; persons who refuse to leave voluntarily will be escorted out of the courthouse and/or courtroom by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department personnel.

Individuals are also required to maintain at least six (6) feet of physical distance from all persons―except those within the same household―at all times and comply with social distance signage throughout the courthouse and use hand sanitizer when entering the courthouse, practice good hand-washing hygiene and cover coughs and sneezes, preferably with a tissue.

To access the entire General Order, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/NR_June-15_Masks.pdf

 

LASC ISSUES NEW TRANSITIONAL OPERATING ORDER

June 15, 2021 – The Los Angeles Superior Court has issued a new General Order extending last-day deadlines for Criminal and Juvenile Dependency matters to assist the Court in its ongoing post-pandemic expansion of jury trials in the nation’s largest trial court.

The new Order will allow the Court to responsibly transition to operate safely at pre-pandemic levels. For full details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/21-NR-June-GO-2021_061821.pdf 

 

NEW MASK, DISTANCING MANDATES AT LAC COURTHOUSES

June 15, 2021 – Face masks and social distancing remain in effect in all L. A. County courthouses until further notice, according to the latest General Order issued by the Los Angeles Superior Court.

To avoid confusion, as the state and county public health departments change their COVID-19 protocols, the general public, including all who visit and work in County courthouses, is being asked to continue to follow the Court’s face mask and social distancing requirements.

The new G.O. requires all persons entering any courthouse or courtroom to wear a face mask over their nose and mouth at all times within public areas of the courthouse or courtroom; non-exempt individuals who decline or refuse to wear a face mask will be denied entry to the courthouse and/or courtroom.

Individuals who remove their face masks after entering the courthouse or courtroom will be reminded to wear them. If they refuse, they may be denied services, may have their legal matters rescheduled and/or will be asked to leave the courthouse or courtroom immediately; persons who refuse to leave voluntarily will be escorted out of the courthouse and/or courtroom by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department personnel.

Individuals are also required to maintain at least six (6) feet of physical distance from all persons―except those within the same household―at all times and comply with social distance signage throughout the courthouse and use hand sanitizer when entering the courthouse, practice good hand-washing hygiene and cover coughs and sneezes, preferably with a tissue.

To access the entire General Order, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/NR_June-15_Masks.pdf

 

NEW JUDICIAL EMERGENCY CONTINUANCES

March 3, 2021 – The Los Angeles Superior Court has issued a new General Order extending last-day deadlines for criminal trials and specified hearings, as well as juvenile dependency cases.

“While the number of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County has decreased and the number of persons being vaccinated against the coronavirus is increasing, the Court’s priority remains safe access to justice,” LASC Presiding Judge Taylor said. “The Court will continue to limit the number of persons in its courthouses and require compliance with mandatory mask and social distancing protocols.”

For full details on the new last-day deadliness, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/21-NR-NEW-GO-EXTENSIONS-FEB-25-2021.pdf

 

LASC SEEKS VACCINATION PRIORITIZATION

January 27, 2021 – LASC Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor has asked the County to reprioritize COVID-19 vaccinations for Court employees and judicial officers, and the justice partner employees, who work daily in the Court’s 38 courthouses.

In a letter to Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH), Judge Taylor wrote:

“The Court has worked tirelessly to keep the doors of justice open in furtherance of our commitment and duty to uphold constitutional, statutory, and legislative mandates as the third branch of government in our democracy,” Presiding Judge Taylor said. “We have been fortunate to work with you and our County’s Department of Public Health to ensure that we conduct court proceedings and business safely.

“To that end, we have drastically reduced foot traffic in our courthouses, moved court operations and proceedings to remote formats where lawful and permissible, issued Emergency Orders to delay many proceedings and jury trials, implemented social distancing, mandatory use of face masks and other safety protocols, retrofitted our facilities with plexiglass and hand sanitizer stations, and greatly enhanced our facilities’ sanitization services. Nonetheless, the hardworking essential workers of our Court must continue to carry out many of their duties in-person.”

Presiding Judge Taylor made the request after the State and the County announced last week that Court worker vaccinations would be further delayed due to a change in the vaccination prioritization list, placing persons 65 and over above the Category 1C workers.

Presiding Judge Taylor added, “I am deeply grateful for all you do to keep the public safe and the support you have provided us all during these very difficult times.”

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE CENTER SHIFTS TO A.M.- P.M. CALENDARS

January 11, 2021 – Effective immediately, the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center (CJC) in downtown Los Angeles, will implement A.M., P.M. calendars to limit the number of people entering the courthouse.

Departments designated as A.M. courtrooms will commence no earlier than 9:15 a.m. and will be closed in the afternoon, while Departments designated as P.M. courtrooms will begin no earlier than 1:45 p.m. and will be closed in the morning.

Arraignment, Preliminary Hearing, ODR, and Long Cause Felony courtrooms will remain open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To reduce foot traffic on the third floor, preliminary hearings may be transferred throughout the day to available courtrooms on the ninth floor.

CJC operating hours will remain the same―8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for court holidays.

Advance appointments for in-person service at the Clerk’s Office are still required. Sheriff’s Department personnel are directed to enforce the mandatory face mask requirement and social distancing protocols in courthouses.

For full details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/21-NTA-CJC-MOVING-TO-AM-PM-CALENDARS-FINAL.pdf

 

NEW MEASURES FOR PERSONAL INJURY FSCs AT SPRING ST. COURTHOUSE

December 30, 2020 – In an effort to reduce the number of in-person appearances in Personal Injury courtrooms in the Spring Street Courthouse, the Court is encouraging remote appearances in Final Status Conferences (FSC) so long as the parties/attorneys submit a joint electronic trial binder in advance of the FSC.

At least two court days before the scheduled FSC, parties/counsel must submit via email a joint electronic trial binder to the courtroom in which the FSC will be conducted.

The trial documents must be in PDF text searchable format and bookmarked and emailed to the applicable email address listed below:

Notwithstanding submission of an electronic version of the trial binder to the judge conducting the FSC, the parties/counsel must present the trial binder with hard copies of the requisite documents to the trial judge.

For detailed information, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/20_NTA_COVID-19-PROTECTIVE-MEASURES-FSC-PI-COURTROOMS-SPRING-STREET-COURTHOUSE-ORDER-ATTACHED.pdf

 

LASC EXTENDS DEADLINES ON SOME TRIALS AND CASES

December 9, 2020 – The Los Angeles Superior Court is extending last-day deadlines for criminal trials as well as juvenile dependency cases in an effort to further limit the number of people permitted to enter the County’s 37 courthouses.

Criminal: Until further notice, the Court extends the time provided by section 859b of the Penal Code for the holding of a preliminary examination and the defendant’s right to release from 10 court days to not more than 30 court days.

The Court extends the time period provided in section 1382 of the Penal Code for the holding of a Criminal trial by not more than 30 days, applicable only to cases in which the original or previously extended statutory deadline otherwise would expire from December 2, 2020 to December 31, 2020, inclusive.

Juvenile Dependency: The Court extends the time periods provided in section 313 of the Welfare and Institutions Code within which a minor taken into custody pending dependency proceedings must be released from custody to not more than seven (7) days, applicable only to minors for whom the statutory deadline would otherwise expire from December 7, 2020 to December 31, 2020, inclusive.

The Court extends the time periods provided in section 315 of the Welfare and Institutions Code within which a minor taken into custody pending dependency proceedings must be given a detention hearing to not more than seven (7) days, applicable only to minors for whom the statutory deadline would otherwise expire from December 7, 2020 to December 31, 2020, inclusive.

For full details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/20_NTA_Dec_GO_FINAL-with-Order.pdf

 

STRICT NEW MANDATES ON LA COUNTY COURTHOUSE ADMITTANCE

November 24, 2020 – Effective immediately, public access to all courthouses in Los Angeles County is restricted to authorized persons only and measures to enforce social distancing in courthouse hallways and courtrooms will be strictly enforced as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge.

According to the LASC, the General Orders the Court has issued are in response to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted lawsuits from civil litigants seeking to have the Court adjudicate their cases.

While some attorneys sought jury trials, other attorneys objected to coming into court during a pandemic.

Recently, despite mandatory and previous General Orders requiring the use of face masks and social distancing and ubiquitous signage in each courthouse reiterating the face mask and social distancing mandates, attorneys, litigants, and others routinely remove their masks, wear their mask improperly, and/or fail to observe social distancing while in courthouses.

Non-compliance with the basic protective measures that this Court has repeatedly required by way of prior General Orders to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus may increase COVID-19 infections.

For complete details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/112420-Facemask-Order.pdf

 

LASC UPGRADES FACE MASK ORDER

October 14, 2020 – The LASC has issued a revised mandatory face mask order that prohibits the use of face masks with valves in all Los Angeles County courthouses. The new Order also requires that face masks be worn beneath face shields except as required by a physician. Children under the age of two are exempt from the Order.

Non-exempt individuals who refuse to wear a face mask will be denied courthouse/courtroom entry under revised mandatory face mask order.

The Court is aligning its mandatory face mask requirements in all Los Angeles County courthouses with Public Health and California Department of Public Health guidances, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19.

Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that precludes them from wearing a face mask, are exempt from the Order.

Nevertheless, they must take whatever protective measures their condition permits, such as wearing a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge as long as their medical condition allows it.

Certain exemptions to the new rule are permitted. For complete details of the new face mask order, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/20-NTA_GO_Face-Masks_Revised-Order.pdf

 

COURT PRIORITIZES RESUMPTION OF CRIMINAL JURY TRIALS

September 14, 2020 – According to the Los Angeles Superior Court, there are now 7,000 criminal cases that must be tried to satisfy defendants’ statutory speedy trial rights.

As a result, the Court is prioritizing the resumption of criminal jury trials, “while remaining vigilant about enforcing the COVID-19 health and safety protocols in 38 courthouses so that litigants, attorneys, witnesses, jurors, court personnel, justice partners, judicial officers, and others can participate safely in court proceedings.”

To that end, the LASC has implemented many significant changes to the jury processes to protect jurors  and maintain social distancing standards, while allowing the Court to resume its business.

For example, the first criminal jury trial held since the shutdown began was completed the first week of September, while the Court resumed Small Claims trials and traffic non-jury trials in August. Juvenile dependency courts resumed operations on June 22, and have held the vast majority of proceedings remotely, enabling litigants and counsel to access the courts safely.

For complete details on the progress made by the Court and its plans to resume normalized operations, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20-NR-PRESIDING-JUDGE-ISSUES-NEW-GO-EXTENDING-TRIALS-WHILE-RAMPING-UP-COURT-COMBINED.pdf

LASC DETAILS REMOTE APPEARANCE CRITERIA 

September 8, 2020 – People with traffic or non-traffic infraction citation matters, with a scheduled hearing on or after September 14, may be eligible to appear remotely for cases without coming to court using LACourtConnect.

Clients should be aware that they cannot attend their hearing remotely if they are scheduled for a trial; want to argue that they are not the person named on the citation; want to present any documents or forms, such as a proof of correction, proof of insurance, photos, any information in paper or from a smartphone or other device, etc.; or they wish to provide any other information that cannot be presented during an audio-only (no video) appearance.

All information and instructions for using LACC can be found at https://www.lacourt.org/lacc/.

 

90-DAY GRACE PERIOD FOR TRAFFIC, NON-TRAFFIC INFRACTIONS

August 24, 2020 – All traffic and non-traffic Infraction matters, scheduled for appearance in any Clerk’s Office through October 14, 2020, will be continued for 90 days, according to the latest General Order issued by the Los Angeles Superior Court.

People do not need to contact the Clerk’s Office to take advantage of this relief. Notification of new court dates will be mailed.

Due to social distancing protocols, do not come to the courthouse for any in-person services without a prescheduled appointment. To schedule an appointment, telephone the Call Center (see below).    Traffic Infraction defendants who have suspended driver’s licenses due to unpaid tickets can now call the Court to set a future hearing date and immediately have the Court request a release of their Driver’s License Hold from the DMV.

Defendants should be aware that COVID-19 has affected the DMV’s ability to process these requests, so there may be some delays in lifting the holds.

For general Traffic and Non-Traffic Infraction questions, or if you have questions or need help with accounts already in collections, please visit the Court’s Traffic webpage at http://www.lacourt.org/division/traffic/traffic2.aspx or call one of the Traffic courthouses for more information and assistance. Telephone hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, except Court holidays.

For complete details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/O82420-TRAFFIC-RELIEF.pdf

 

SFVBA’S WOMEN’S LAW SECTION PARTNERS WITH HAVEN HILLS

August 19, 2020 – The SFVBA Women Lawyer’s Section is responding to what the United Nations is calling the “shadow pandemic” of domestic abuse with a unique and important volunteer opportunity.

Instances of domestic violence have increased worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the SFVBA Women Lawyers Section is seeking help as it partners with Canoga Park-based Haven Hills to provide shelter and safety to those suffering abuse at home.

“While back to school looks very different for all of us this year, it is a particularly difficult time for Haven Hills’ residents. This is why the Women Lawyers Section is reaching out to our members who may be interested in lending a hand,” says SFVBA Trustee  Amanda Moghaddam.

The Section, she says, has worked with Haven Hills to compile a list of needed items requested by families.

If you are interested in “adopting” a family to meet the needs on their list, or providing other assistance such as a gift card, toiletries, or standard school supplies, please email Trustee Amanda Moghaddam at Amandamoghaddam@gmail.com by Wednesday, August 26, 2020 to confirm your participation.

If you or your firm choose to adopt a family, you will be sent a list to fulfill and instructions.

 

NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR APPELLATE DIVISION REMOTE ORAL ARGUMENTS

August 12, 2020 – The video appearance technology Webex is now available for remote oral argument appearances in the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Appellate Division.

Webex provides a safe and convenient alternative to in-person appearances, allowing allows parties to appear in court via video without having to come to court.

To appear remotely for an oral argument:

  • Access the “courtroom” 15 minutes prior to your scheduled hearing.
  • You must be visible, and your statements must be audible to all other participants (audio and video is required to participate remotely).
  • Test your equipment before your hearing. If you are not present when your case is ready to be heard, you will be deemed to have waived oral argument, and the appeal will be deemed to have been submitted on the brief(s) of the non-appearing party or parties.

Appearing via Webex provides the following benefits:

  • Promotes convenience;
  • Reduces the number of court visitors, which assists with social distancing protocols;
  • Eliminates driving and parking costs; and,
  • Saves commute time to courthouses.

Information on Webex and the LASC’s Here For You | Safe For You program, please go to http://www.lacourt.org/newsmedia/ui/HfySfy.aspx

 

LASC PROCEEDINGS EXTENDED FOR SELECTED TRIALS 

August 11, 2020 – The Los Angeles County Superior Court has issued a new General Order that extends start-up dates for enumerated legal proceedings in the Civil, Family, Probate, Juvenile and Criminal Divisions of the Court.

Some criminal trials may start in September, while civil jury trials are continued until January 2021. Civil non-jury trials may not commence before November 16 under the terms of the new Order.

According to the Order, some unlawful detainer non-jury trials and non-jury trials in preference cases may begin on or after October 5 “in compliance with social distancing protocols.”

The latest 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.”

For full details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/NEW-GO-081120.pdf

 

NEW RESTRICTIONS AT U.S BANKRUPTCY COURT

August 10, 2020 – Chief Judge Maureen Tighe has issued a new General Order detailing further restrictions on operations and activities at the U. S. Bankruptcy Court.

The new directive was accompanied by a letter from Judge Tighe which follows below:

“As you may have read in the Public Notice that went out on Friday, we have had to reduce any in-person proceedings at the Bankruptcy Court even further. As you could probably tell from how quickly one general order superseded another, we have been agonizing over how to best serve the public and still keep people safe. After consultation with Chief District Judge Gutierrez and Clerk of Court Kathy Campbell, I decided it was best to be consistent with the District Court decision to hold no in-person hearings that were not required by law.

 “I know this will cause confusion for many of you with important evidentiary hearings and trials scheduled. I trust you and the assigned judge will be able to work out an alternative. We had hoped very limited in-person hearings and trials could be held with appropriate safeguards, but the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the district makes that too risky at this time. There is guidance on the website about how to use Zoomgov, and we will continue hearing cases with whatever remote modalities we can.

“Please call the courtroom deputy or chambers if you have any questions about something scheduled in a particular case. I expect it will take a few days to sort out this sudden change in circumstances for all scheduled matters. All hearings continue to be open to the public through either telephone or video. If instructions are not on the court calendar, simply call the courtroom deputy for the assigned judge.

“Although all represented parties can file and appear electronically, we are still concerned with access for self-represented parties, especially as economic conditions worsen. It was important for us to keep at least one intake area open for those who cannot file electronically.

“The Roybal Federal Courthouse will be set up to accept filings for the entire district. Appropriate safeguards are in place, and people will be allowed into the building for that limited purpose. Although Roybal is quite a drive for many, it is centrally located and set up to handle a volume of filings. We have posted extensive information about how self-represented debtors can file both initial petitions and later pleadings electronically.

“We hope to post an electronic learning module shortly explaining how to use eSR, our electronic self-represented bankruptcy filing program. If you know of anyone considering a bankruptcy filing, please encourage them to find counsel, and, if not, to consult the court website: https://www.cacb.uscourts.gov/filing-without-an-attorney.

“Ideally, we could find a way for every party to be represented. If you think of more ways we can get information out to help people use attorneys, please let us know. We are greatly indebted to our pro bono partners for the assistance they are providing and the ways they have figured out how to help indigent clients remotely. There are also links on the website for attorneys wishing to volunteer their services for any of these organizations.

“I encourage you to consider this if you have not already done so. Oddly, it is much easier to fit it in to a busy day because you can do it remotely. Even limited advice often can make a huge difference for some people. If a self-represented party is not able to file electronically, mail the pleadings, or come to Roybal, there is a help line available where we can make alternative arrangements – (855) 460-9641. Our staff has been handling every type of trouble-shooting since last March, and will get back to any message left on this line.”

We may be facing unprecedented bankruptcy filings. Anything you can do now to your improve electronic filing skills, get trained as a volunteer, or get ready for what may come will help us all weather this crisis better. I greatly appreciate your continued patience and understanding at this trying time.”

 

U.S. DISTRICT COURT CLOSED, DELAYS JURY TRIALS 

August 10, 2020 – The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has closed its doors to the public and delayed all civil and criminal jury trials until further notice. The Courthouse is located at 350 W. 1st St. in downtown Los Angeles.

Although judges can offer bench trials for civil matters, no criminal jury trials will take place until “gating criteria” is met, according to Court Clerk, Kiry Gray, adding that the operational changes are in response to “the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the District.”

The court will decide civil cases telephonically or by video conference, and with defendants’ consent, criminal cases will also proceed remotely. Criminal matters that do proceed in-person will have a limit of 10 people present in the courtroom at a time.

Criminal bench duty will continue to take place virtually in the Roybal Courthouse in Los Angeles and Santa Ana Courthouse, or in-person if defendants do not consent, the notice states.

 

REMOTE APPEARANCES FOR FAMILY LAW MATTERS EXPANDED

August 5, 2020 – Effective Monday, August 10, 2020, LACourtConnect (LACC) will be expanded for scheduling remote appearances for Family Law cases for matters on calendar starting August 17 and 30 days thereafter.

LACC is already in use for Probate and Civil cases except Collections, Small Claims and Unlawful Detainer cases, which will have LACC available for use effective August 10.

Schedule remote courtroom appearances for Family Law cases in these courthouses: Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley, Chatsworth, Compton, Governor George Deukmejian (Long Beach), Inglewood, Stanley Mosk, Pasadena, Pomona, Santa Monica, Torrance, Van Nuys East, and Whittier.

Go to  https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/FAMILY-LAW.pdf  for details.

 

WEBEX TO BE AVAILABLE IN ALL LASC CRIMINAL COURTROOMS

August 5, 2020 – Effective Monday, August 10, 2020, audio and video appearances using Webex will be expanded for hearings in all 250 LASC criminal courtrooms.

Since April, audio and video appearances have been an option in 32 courtrooms across the county for arrestees in custody who consent to appear remotely for arraignment.

Courtroom appearances for criminal cases can be scheduled in the following Los Angeles County courthouses: Airport, Alhambra, Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley, Bellflower, Burbank, Central Arraignment Court, Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Compton, Downey, East Los Angeles, El Monte, Glendale, Governor George Deukmejian (Long Beach), Inglewood, Metropolitan, Norwalk, Pasadena, Pomona South, San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Torrance, Van Nuys West, and West Covina.

Webex audio and/or video will be available in each courtroom and such use will be at the judicial officer’s discretion pursuant to Emergency rules 3 and 5 of the California Judicial Council.

Webex links will be provided to the prosecution and defense for use by out-of-custody clients seeking permission to appear remotely. Attorneys from the Public Defender’s Office, the Alternate Public Defender’s Office and private counsel will make the request to the judicial officer to appear via Webex.

For complete details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Audio-Video.pdf

 

ABA LAUNCHES NEW COVID-19 WEBSITE TO ASSIST  ATTORNEYS

July 29, 2020 – The American Bar Association has launched a new Practice Forward website to serve as a clearinghouse of ABA-related information and resources to support and advance the practice of law and the judicial system amid potential long-term changes due to COVID-19.

“The ABA formed Practice Forward to get ahead of the changes that are occurring in the delivery of legal services when we finally emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” ABA President Judy Perry Martinez said.

“We are getting out front of the issues and rethinking what may or may not be essential in both the civil and criminal justice arenas. The website will disseminate ABA resources — seminars, publications, best practices and more — as well as information from partners in state, local and specialty bar associations to help determine how the legal workplace will function and optimize client service.”

The website – ambar.org/practiceforward – is part of the work of the Bar’s Coordinating Group on Practice Forward, which was created to leverage the power of the entire ABA by coordinating pandemic-responsive resources throughout the association.

The site addresses topics such as law practice management, the practice of law and professional development.

 

LACourtConnect EXPANDED TO INCLUDE UD AND COLLECTIONS CASES 

July 28, 2020 – Effective Monday, August 3, 2020, LACourtConnect (LACC) will be expanded for scheduling Unlawful Detainer and Collections cases, and Civil hearings in five Norwalk departments, for matters on calendar starting August 10 and thereafter.

LACC is already in use in Probate, and Civil cases in the Stanley Mosk and Spring Street courthouses.

Attorneys are advised to schedule remote courtroom appearances for Unlawful Detainer and Collections cases in the following courthouses: Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley, Chatsworth, Compton, Governor George Deukmejian (Long Beach), Inglewood, Stanley Mosk, Norwalk, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Van Nuys East and West Covina.

Schedule remote appearances for Civil cases in these five Norwalk Departments: SE-D; SE-E; SE-G; SE-H; and SE-R.

For complete details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20-NTA-Collections.pdf

 

HEARING DATE RESERVATION REQUIRED  FOR FILING CIVIL MOTIONS

July 27, 2020 – Due to COVID-related changes to court operations, the Courtroom Reservation System (CRS), used in most Civil courtrooms, has not been available for the past several months.

Accordingly, the Court accepted motions that were submitted for filing without a reserved hearing date. The assigned courtroom subsequently scheduled a hearing date.

As of July 6, 2020, CRS became operational again. Therefore, effective immediately, all Civil courtrooms using CRS will require all motions to be reserved via CRS prior to filing the motion.

To be accepted for filing, the motion must include:

1) The motion hearing date, time, department number, and the court reservation ID number on the face page of the motion; and

2) The reservation receipt attached as the last page of the motion.

If the filing party is rescheduling a motion, a copy of the most recent rescheduling receipt must also be attached as the last page. The hearing date and motion type as reflected in the receipt must match the face page of the motion when the motion is filed. This process also applies to rescheduled motions.

If a motion is submitted without the required information, the motion will not be filed and will be rejected.

For complete details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20-NTA-HEARING-DATE-RESERVATION-REQUIRED.pdf

 

COURT REMOTE EXPANDED TO INCLUDE SOME CIVIL

July 27, 2020 – Effective today, LACourtConnect (LACC) will be expanded for the scheduling of Civil cases on the court calendar outside of the Central District starting August 3 and thereafter.

LACC is a new court service that allows attorneys to schedule remote appearances and is already in use in Probate, and in Civil cases in the Stanley Mosk and Spring Street courthouses.

Schedule remote courtroom appearances for eligible Civil cases in these courthouses:

Alhambra, Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Chatsworth, Compton, Governor George Deukmejian (Long Beach), Glendale, Metropolitan (Department 69), Norwalk, Pasadena, Pomona, Santa Monica, Torrance, and Van Nuys East.

For full details go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/CIVIL-REMOTE.pdf

 

LASC EXTENDS DEADLINES FOR SELECTED TRIALS

July 16, 2020 – LASC Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brasile  has amended the July 10, 2020, General Order to extend the statutory deadline for criminal trials to September 14 and certain all non-jury trials to August 8, with expanded restrictions on family law evidentiary proceedings.

For complete details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20-NTA-GO-AMENDED-7-15-2020.pdf

 

LASC EXTENDS DATE FOR RESUMPTION OF CRIMINAL TRIALS

July 13, 2020 – Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile announced today he has received approval from Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye to issue a new emergency Order pursuant to the emergency powers granted to him earlier this year.

Under the new Order, the Court, which has not held any jury trials since March 17, would resume criminal jury trials in August 2020.

The Order also addresses prescheduled appointments for in-person services, limited access to proceedings, and the continued use of face coverings.

For details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/DELAY.pdf

 

60-DAY EXTENSION GRANTED FOR TRAFFIC-RELATED INFRACTIONS

July 7, 2020 – Recognizing the economic and other hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles Superior Court has extended its initial 90-day grace period to pay traffic and non-traffic infraction fines by an additional 60 days. The grace period is in effect through  August 21.

“The Court is making every effort to help people who may have lost a job or become ill during the pandemic,” said LASC Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile. “Recognizing the many hardships during this public health and economic crisis, we want to give people even more time to take care of these tickets.”

The relief announced today includes a 60-day extension on all traffic and non-traffic infraction matters. The Court will take no action to send such matters to collections if they remain unpaid or assess the permissible Civil Assessments.

For full details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20-NR-Traffic-Grace-Period-Extended.pdf

 

LASC UPDATES RULES ON FACE COVERINGS, SOCIAL DISTANCING AT COURTHOUSES  

July 7, 2020 – LASC Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile has signed an updated General Order mandating facial coverings and social distancing requirements in all 38 Superior Court of Los Angeles County courthouses and courtrooms.

Under the updated Order, all persons entering any courthouse or courtroom must wear a face covering/mask over his or her nose and mouth at all times within the public areas of the courthouse or courtroom. Individuals who wear a face shield must ensure it covers both the nose and the mouth, wraps around the sides of a wearer’s face and extend to below the chin with a cloth drape from the bottom of the face shield to below the neck.

For complete details of the new order, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/NTA_GO_FACIAL_COVERING_WITH-ORDER-ATTACHED_07-06-2020.pdf

 

LASC APPROVES EMERGENCY $0 BAIL SCHEDULE 

June 22, 2020 – The Los Angeles Superior Court’s Executive Committee has approved a temporary zero emergency bail schedule for most misdemeanors and lower-level felonies.

The $0 Bail Schedule, which took effect at 5:00 p.m. on June 20, includes an exception for individuals previously released on $0 bail and are re-arrested for separate offenses during the pendency of the State of Emergency declared by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Bail for those individuals re-arrested during the state of emergency shall be set pursuant to the applicable non-emergency 2020 Infractions & Misdemeanors Bail Schedule, and 2020 Felony Bail Schedule. This exception does not apply to those whose subsequent separate offense occurs after the original offense is resolved.

For complete details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/20-NR-Zero-Bail-Final.pdf

 

U. S. BANKRUPTCY COURT DETAILS REOPENING PLANS

June 16, 2020 – The U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California, has released an update on the Court’s reconstitution plans after the COVID-19 related shutdown.

According to the Court, the federal courthouses of the district will open to the public on June 22; judges will start holding in-person hearings slowly after July 1, though all will permit remote appearances through the end of the year for motions even if in-person appearances are allowed; visitors to courthouses will be required to wear a face covering unless they are medically exempted from the rule; and all CDC and GSA protocols that have been in effect will continue for maintaining safe facilities.

For complete details go to, https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/BANKRUPTCY-2.pdf

 

LASC COURT OPERATIONS TO OPEN BASED ON NEW TIMELINE 

June 15, 2020 – California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has issued a new General Order granting  the L. A. Superior Court the go-ahead to put in place a phased-in expansion of court operations and social distancing requirements, effective June 22.

Under the Order, access to courthouses will be restricted at all times to judicial officers, court employees, co-lessees, Judicial Council staff, vendors, authorized persons―which includes news reporters and media representatives―attorneys, litigants, and witnesses with matters on calendar or individuals with confirmed appointments.

In addition, probate, mental health, juvenile dependency and delinquency and “certain civil courtrooms” will resume operations with the help of remote courtroom appearances.

The phase-in process will continue through July 9. For a complete breakdown and timeline of the operations and activities affected by the phase-in, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/REOPENING.pdf

SUPERIOR COURT DETAILS MODEL REMOTE ADOPTION PROCESS

June 11, 2020 – The L. A. Superior Court has devised a remote process that allows for the finalization of uncontested Adoptions without the need for a court appearance. The new process―developed in conjunction with the Judicial Council, Alliance For Children’s Rights (Alliance) and Public Counsel―will help parents and their adoptive children quickly and efficiently obtain final court approval of their cases.

The new process, which could be replicated statewide, requires the adoptive parents to sign a stipulated, notarized adoption agreement, declarations and submit other Judicial Council forms by email. After the submission of the stipulated, notarized petition, court employees check that all forms  have been prepared correctly and the entire process is done electronically within a few court days.

Judicial Officers sign the adoption paperwork in chambers and the Court sends the final, file-stamped order by mail to the parents’ attorneys. Applicants may choose to wait for the in-person appearance; however it likely will be months before in-person adoptions will be held in the courthouse.

Before the COVID-19 emergency, it generally would take eight weeks from the initial filing for a Judicial Officers to approve a final Adoption.

The new model adoption process is part of the Court’s Here For You | Safe For You initiative 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 at http://www.lacourt.org/newsmedia/ui/HfySfy.aspx

 

FACE COVERINGS/MASKS MANDATED AT ALL LASC COURTHOUSES AND COURTROOMS

June 8, 2020 – Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile has signed a General Order mandating facial coverings and social distancing requirements in all 38 Superior Court of Los Angeles County courthouses and courtrooms. The Order allows individuals whose disabilities preclude them from wearing a mask to seek an exemption as a reasonable accommodation pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Rule 1.100 of the California Rules of Court. Requests for an exemption to the Order may be directed to the ADA liaison at each courthouse. A list of liaisons is available at www.lacourt.org/ada/adahome.aspx. For full details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Face-Coverings.pdf

 

SELECTED COURTHOUSES REMAIN CLOSED TODAY; MOSK OPEN UNTIL NOON FOR RESTRAINING ORDERS ONLY

June 3, 2020 – Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile has ordered the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center and the Hollywood Courthouse closed today, Wednesday, June 3. The Spring Street Courthouse also is closed today. The Stanley Mosk Courthouse will be open only for the presentation of restraining order applications and set hearings on restraining order matters until 12 p.m. The Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center is located at 210 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. The Hollywood Courthouse is located at 5925 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. The Spring Street Courthouse is located at 312 N. Spring St., Los Angeles. The Stanley Mosk Courthouse is located at 111 N. Hill St., Los Angeles.

 

REMOTE APPEARANCE TECHNOLOGY TO BE EXPANDED 

June 2, 2020 – Attorneys and self-represented litigants in probate, civil, family law and traffic cases will have the option to make audio or video appearances in Los Angeles County courtrooms by using the Court’s new LACourtConnect technology.

Designed to provide a secure, safe and convenient way to attend hearings remotely, the new technology is a key element of the Court’s new ‘Here For You | Safe For You’ plan to restore services and ease the access to justice by adhering to social distancing requirements and dramatically change the traditional in-person courtroom appearance model.

LACourtConnect will be phased–in through the summer months and initially available in Civil Settlements and Probate matters on calendar the week of June 22. Thereafter, LACourtConnect will launch in phases for all Limited Civil, Unlimited Civil and Complex, Family Law, and Traffic courtrooms. Future notices will provide specific implementation dates.

For complete details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Remote-Courtroom.pdf

LASC COURTHOUSES TO REOPEN TUESDAY, JUNE 2

June 1, 2020 – Most of the Court’s 38 courthouses will reopen on Tuesday, June 2, to resume providing essential services. On Sunday, Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile ordered the courthouses closed today due to public safety concerns after the issuance of a countywide curfew which took effect at 6 p.m. on May 31, 2020.

All courthouses will reopen to handle time-sensitive and essential functions except the following which have been closed for some time due to COVID19-related service reductions: Beverly Hills, Bellflower, Catalina, Central Civil West, East Los Angeles, Santa Clarita and Spring Street.

The Court plans to reopen its Clerk’s Office operations on June 15 with a revised service model that prioritizes telephonic and online services, and appointments to meet in person with court personnel, in order to achieve social distancing protocols. Hearings will resume gradually beginning June 22. Face masks and/or facial coverings will be mandatory and required for entry into any courthouse or courtroom by the general public or authorized persons.

Since Presiding Judge Brazile released his March 17 General Order to scale back operations in the largest trial court in the country in alignment with State and County COVID-19 public health directives, the Court has implemented drastic changes to court operations.

During this time, 473 of the Court’s 600 courtrooms, approximately 80 percent, have been closed.

APPOINTMENTS REQUIRED FOR IN-PERSON SERVICES AT COUNTY COURTHOUSES

June 1, 2020 – Appointments made online and by telephone will be necessary to access in-person services at all Los Angeles County courthouses starting on Monday, June 15 when Clerk’s Offices and Self-Help Centers open.

When the Clerk’s Office opens on Monday, June 15, the Los Angeles Superior Court will offer convenient telephonic and online options to conduct court business while requiring an appointment in advance to receive in-person services.

The new protocol focuses on providing a safe courthouse environment and offering expanded choices to conveniently conduct court business remotely — which promotes social distancing by reducing the number of people appearing in person.

For more information including telephone numbers for the Clerk’s Offices in every courthouse in Los Angeles County, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/person-to-person.pdf 

 

U.S. BANKRUPTCY COURT EXTENDS REOPENING DATE

May 28, 2020 – Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no physical access to the United States Bankruptcy Court for any court hearings before June 30, 2020 , “absent a specific order so authorizing access by the presiding judge establishing the necessity of an in-person hearing,” according to a new General Order issued by the United States Bankruptcy Court’s Central District of California.

The Order, under the signature of Chief Judge Maureen A Tighe, also outlines the handling of Social Security Number statements, mediations, opening of filing windows, and the Court’s phased reopening plans.

The entire order can be accessed at https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/3rd-Amended-GO20-02-1.pdf

 

ORANGE COUNTY PLANS “SOFT” COURTHOUSE REOPENING

May 22, 2020 – The Orange County Superior Court will reportedly re-open courthouses for limited services on Tuesday, May 26.

However, members of the public are advised not to visit a courthouse unless they have been notified by the Court that they have a hearing scheduled on their matter.

The branch courthouses will begin conducting preliminary hearings on felony matters. Criminal jury trials will start up in June. The number of hearings and trials is expected to grow over the coming weeks, as conditions allow.

Public service windows will remain closed, as this is a soft reopening. Since the Court is not yet able to assist parties on a walk-in basis, it will continue to provide drop boxes for filing documents.

As part of the soft opening, the Court will be strictly enforcing health protocols. The the use of facemasks or face coverings is mandatory for anyone entering a courthouse. Social distancing rules will also be strictly enforced in all facilities, thus the number of individuals entering public courtrooms and elevators will be subject to space limitations. Persons displaying possible coronavirus symptoms will not be allowed in court facilities.

 

COVID-19 LEADERSHIP UPDATE WEBINAR PLANNED 

May 18, 2020 – SFVBA members are invited to participate in a COVID-19 Q&A Webinar with the leadership of the Los Angeles Superior Court system.

Scheduled for Friday, June 5, from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m., the presentation will detail what to expect when the county’s courts reopen on June 22 and feature input from Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile, Assistant Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor and CEO Sherri R. Carter.

The webinar is password protected and and prior registration is required. A confirmation email will be sent to all those who register their participation.

Questions are being requested prior to the presentation and can be submitted in the ‘Questions and Comments’ section of the registration page. Due to time constraints, all questions submitted may not be addressed.

To register for the webinar, go to https://lacba.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7zj390OLSVm2iwNYPLENeg

 

CALIFORNIA COURTS TAKE HEAVY BUDGET HIT

May 14, 2020 – California’s courts will reportedly lose hundreds of millions of dollars in funding under a revised, COVID-19-impacted state budget proposal unveiled today by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Responding to the budget cuts―a downward revision of the budget unveiled by the Governor last month―California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, said, “The state’s economic outlook is in a vastly different place than it was in January.”

Calling the projected budget deficit “sobering,” the judicial branch, she added, “is prepared to work with the Governor and the Legislature as we all try to maintain services for the public we serve. My hope is that the financial burden of a deficit will be shared fairly by all sectors of government. No one wants to turn away those coming to our courts to seek justice.”

Complete details of the budget cuts and their impact on the state’s judicial operations can be found at https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Budget-Summary_JudicialBranch-1.pdf

 

LASC EXTENDS COURTROOM CLOSURES, DELAYS CERTAIN OTHER OPERATIONS THROUGH JUNE 10

May 13, 2020 – LASC Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile announced today he has extended his April 14 General Order to direct that all courtrooms in Los Angeles County remain closed through June 10 for judicial business, except for certain time-sensitive, essential functions.

To prepare for the anticipated resumption of court hearings beginning June 22, the Clerk’s Office will reopen on June 15.

Under the Order, certain matters, namely criminal jury trials and non-jury trials; civil jury and non-jury trials; the processing of all unlawful detainer cases; family law trials and evidentiary hearings, excluding restraining order and international kidnapping proceedings; traffic and non-traffic Infraction trials; and dependency and delinquency arraignment/detention hearings scheduled between May 13-June 10, 2020, will be continued or reset.

To read the complete text of the extension order, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/20_NR_Order-5-13-2020-Extension.pdf

 

USAGE OF FACE COVERINGS BY LASC JUDICIAL OFFICERS MANDATED

May 9, 2020 – All Los Angeles County Superior Court bench officers will be required to wearface coverings while on the bench and in public areas inside courthouses, according to the most recent general order issued by Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile.

The Court has provided each judicial officer and employees with two face masks to use while at their courthouses. Court employees also are required to wear face coverings.

Exceptions to the Presiding Judge’s directive may be made for judicial officers to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, to address medical conditions and for recognized  good faith reasons, such as religious  beliefs.

Although the Court is exempt from the County’s order requiring people to wear masks in public, it has strongly encouraged the use of face coverings  in its courthouses. The Court will issue a paper mask at courthouse entrances to any member of the public who does not have one.

In addition, the Court is only handling essential, time-sensitive proceedings to keep as many people as possible out of the courthouses during the Safer-At-Home orders. The Court also has implemented the use of remote appearance technology and established customer service call centers to provide alternatives to coming to courthouses.

 

NEW ONLINE TOOL AVAILABLE TO RESOLVE CUSTODY DISPUTES

May 6, 2020 – Parents seeking to negotiate and resolve Family Law child custody and visitation issues without coming to court may take advantage of a new free online tool to help them reach a Parenting Plan Agreement.

The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) program is part of the Court’s many initiatives that offer access to justice in convenient, efficient ways during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective May 18, an attorney, or a parent who is self-represented or represented by an attorney, may initiate a negotiation invitation through the ODR program. The other party will then receive an email invite to participate. The other parent or attorney then has the option to provide a response. Once the parents agree on a plan, the ODR tool will generate a Parenting Plan Agreement, which the parents may file with the Court via fax, U.S. mail or drop box outside the courthouse. If accepted, the plan becomes the order of the court.

If the parties are unable to resolve all child custody and visitation issues, they will be required to attend a Family Court Services mediation appointment in-person at a future date.

The ODR program will be accessible later this month at this link:  http://www.lacourt.org/division/familylaw/familylaw.aspx.

 

CRIMINAL JURY TRIAL CONTINUANCE PERIOD EXTENDED  

April 29, 2020 – Chief Justice of California and and Chair of the Judicial Council, Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, has issued an updated statewide emergency order extending the initial 60-day continuance of criminal jury trials, authorized on March 23, by an additional 30 days to June 14.

The state’s courts, she wrote, “are further urged to work with justice partners to encourage and facilitate expeditious settlement, where possible, of cases pending before the court, in compliance with applicable health and safety laws, regulations, and orders, including through the use of remote technology, when appropriate.”

To read the entire emergency order, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Chief_Justice_Statewide_Emergency-Order_04292020S.pdf

 

CALIFORNIA BAR EXAM TO BE POSTPONED

April 27, 2020 – The Supreme Court of California on Monday ordered the July California Bar Exam be postponed to Sept. 9-10, and directed the State Bar to make every effort to administer the test online with remote or electronic proctoring.

The State Bar of California, the Court said, should also allow those registered to withdraw with a full refund through the day before the exam, Sept. 8. Exam results should be disclosed to takers no later than Dec. 31.

For the complete details, please go to https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/california-supreme-court-orders-bar-exam-delayed-administered-online

 

NLSLA BUILDING TEAM OF VOLUNTEER LAWYERS 

April 27, 2020 – Through a combination of individual representation, high impact litigation and public policy advocacy, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles combats the immediate and long-lasting effects of poverty and expands access to health, opportunity, and justice in Los Angeles’ diverse neighborhoods.

NLSLA is looking to build a team of volunteer lawyers to be available through and after the COVID Shelter in Place period.

Valley Community Legal Foundation, the community service arm of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, heartily supports this effort and encourages SFVBA members, if able, to volunteer their time and talent to help individuals seeking legal assistance through NLSLA.

Specifically, attorneys are sought who practice in the following areas: employment law (employees); housing (homeless, tenants and borrowers); consumer law (credit card debt and other debt); bankruptcy; family law; and domestic violence/restraining orders.

Please contact Skip Koenig or Mally Ponce to have your name added to the list of pro bono volunteers. The anticipated need when life gets back into motion is great.

 

DEADLINES EXTENDED FOR CERTAIN RETIREMENT PLANS

April 23, 2020 – The ABA Retirement Funds Program has released information on the Internal Revenue Service’s recent ruling to extend the deadlines for certain retirement plans and IRA transactions.

The ruling covers transactions that are otherwise due to be performed between April 1, 2020 and July 14, 2020 and sets the new due date for those actions at July 15, 2020. For more information, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/IRS-COVID-deadline-extensions-2020.04.21.pdf

 

COURT OFFERS OPTIONS TO RESOLVE TRAFFIC, NON-TRAFFIC INFRACTION MATTERS

April 21, 2020 – The Los Angeles Superior Court has options available to assist individuals who are experiencing financial or other difficulty related to the COVID-19 and are unable to pay or need an extension for their traffic and non-traffic Infraction matters.

For cases already referred to collections, the Court will take no action for 90 days from April 10, 2020 if the cases remain unpaid. Defendants do not need to contact the Clerk’s Office or Call Centers to take advantage of this relief.

The actions listed below, once completed, will result in the Court sending a request to release a Driver’s License Hold from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

For questions and assistance, contact the Court’s new Call Centers. Numbers for live assistance at the Call Centers are provided as well as automated assistance numbers can be found at https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20-NR-COURT-OFFERS-OPTIONS-TO-RESOLVE-OR-DELAY-TRAFFIC-NON-TRAFFIC-INFRACTION-MATTERS.pdf

 

NEW COUNTY-WIDE VIDEO APPEARANCE PROGRAM LAUNCHED

April 21, 2020 – The Los Angeles Superior Court is launching a comprehensive Video Appearance Project in 32 courtrooms in 17 courthouses in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and County law enforcement agencies in an effort to to promote social distancing in the nation’s largest trial court.

Individuals facing arraignment on criminal charges in Los Angeles County must consent to the Webex video appearance. The use of 13 Sheriff’s Department hubs will significantly reduce the number of Sheriff’s Department transports to county courthouses.

However, if the arrestees do not consent, the Sheriff’s Department transports them to the courthouse for an arraignment with social distancing measures required under LASC Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile’s General Order.

Go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20-NR-VIDEO-APPEARANCE-PROJECT-AND-FACT-SHEET.pdf for full details.

 

NEW RULE: ATTORNEYS MUST ACCEPT ELECTRONIC SERVICE

April 21, 2020 – The Judicial Council has enacted an emergency rule requiring attorneys to accept electronic service of documents, reports the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

The new rule will remain in effect until 90 days after the governor declares that CONVID-19 restrictions are lifted

“Attorneys have reported that during this pandemic, some parties refuse to agree to electronic service and insist on serving and being served by mail,” the Council said. “The new temporary rule makes it mandatory for represented parties but only voluntary for self-represented litigants.”

The rule will have little effect with respect to Los Angeles Superior Court cases, where receipt of electronic service by attorneys in non-complex civil cases is already mandatory.

Under a May 3, 2019 first amended general order, electronic filing is required in cases where a party is represented by an attorney; California Rules of Court, rule 2.251(c)(3) provides that “a party or other person that is required to file documents electronically in an action must also serve documents and accept service of documents electronically from all other parties or persons.”

 

STATUS REPORT ON COUNTY, SAN FERNANDO VALLEY COURTS RELEASED

April 17, 2020 – On Thursday, April 16, 2020, members of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association’s Bench-Bar Committee convened with key Valley judicial officers for a remote session on the ‘State of the Valley Courts Update and FAQs Regarding COVID-19.’

LASC Judge Huey P. Cotton, Judge David B. Gelfound, Judge Darrell Mavis, Judge Virginia Keeny and Judge Joseph A. Brandolino, SFVBA Bench Bar Co-Chairs Caryn Sanders and James Felton, and SFVBA Executive Director Rosie Soto Cohen were in attendance.

A synopsis of the latest updates on County-wide court operations and activities at the Valley’s courtrooms and courthouses can be found at https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/BRIEFING-REPORT-REV.pdf

 

SFVBA OFFICES TO REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL MAY 15

APRIL 17, 2020 – The San Fernando Valley Bar Association offices will remain closed and staff will continue to work remotely until, at least, May 15.

The decision was made in accordance with the Stay At Home/Safer At Home orders, and will continue to the Covid-19-related operational changes originally announced on March 17.

 

FAMILY LAW EX PARTE FILING UPDATE

APRIL 17, 2020 – Effective immediately, the Family Law Division of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County will implement use of Resource Account email addresses while the Court is closed, except for essential functions.

A Resource Account permits litigants to file ex parte applications and oppositions by email, and to pay required fees, if any.

Instructions for the handling of documents and the Resource Accounts assigned to the districts in which the Family Law Division has court operations can be seen at https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20-NTA-FAMILY-LAW-EX-PARTE-RESOURCE-ACCOUNTS-4-13-2020.pdf

 

LASC OUTLINES NEW EMERGENCY RULES FOR SPECIFIED COURT ACTIVITIES

APRIL 17, 2020 – The Los Angeles Superior Court has issued a new set of emergency rules regarding specific court activities in response to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The rules apply to unlawful detainers; judicial foreclosures; the suspension of actions; the use of technology for remote appearances; emergency bail schedules; the personal appearance waivers of defendants during health emergencies; juvenile dependency proceedings; and temporary restraining or protective orders.

They also cover tolling the statutes of limitations for civil causes of action; the extensions of time in which to bring a civil action to trial; the depositions through remote electronic means; and electronic service.

For details on each rule, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Emergency-Rules.pdf

 

VALLEY JURISTS, SFVBA REPRESENTATIVES CONVENE TO DISCUSS COVID-19 IMPACT 

April 16, 2020 – Members of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association’s Bench Bar Committee convened today with key Valley judicial officers and Bar leaders for a remote State of the Valley Courts Update and FAQs Regarding COVID-19.

The session featured Judge Huey P. Cotton, Judge David B. Gelfound, Judge Darrell Mavis, Judge Virginia Keeny and Judge Joseph A. Brandolino, who detailed the latest updates on activities at the Valley’s courtrooms and courthouses.

Some of the major points covered during the session included:

  • First and foremost, civility is required! Because the courts are operating during a pandemic, attorneys should behave according to the highest level of professionalism –judges will issue sanctions to attorneys that don’t meet the standard;
  • The number of courtrooms in operation went from 400 to 128 and the number of employees went from 4,900 to a few hundred;
  • When the court reconvenes, criminal matters, unlawful detainer matters, and civil preference trials will take priority; based on a projected opening of the courts on June 22, civil jury trials will likely not begin for 60-90 days;
  • Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles is serving pro se litigants remotely, and they expect an onslaught of services in matters involving evictions, employment termination, family law matters and small business SBA loans;
  • The Superior Court’s Court Commissioner Selection Committee will publish the final list of 30 Commissioner-elects by tomorrow;
  • Judge Kevin Brazile has issued roles for the new COVID-19 Council, and the new local advisory team with SFVBA, which will evaluate how best to get court operations ramped up with maximum leverage of technology and a blueprint to maintain social distancing as courts resume heavier caseloads and trials.

A more detailed and specific report on the briefing is being prepared and will be issued on Friday, April 17.

 

LASC CLOSES COURTROOMS UNTIL MAY 12; EXCEPTIONS LISTED

APRIL 15, 2020 – In response to the directives issued by various agencies regarding the current Covid-19 pandemic, LASC Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile has issued a General Order mandating that, from April 17, until May 12 of this year (inclusive), all courtrooms will remain closed for judicial business.

Exceptions are being made for a number of time-sensitive, essential functions including civil and family temporary restraining orders; civil, criminal, family and probate ex parte proceedings; search warrants; arraignments; criminal preliminary hearings; criminal sentencing and post-sentencing proceedings; and grand jury indictments.

For more information and a complete list of exempted activities, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-GEN-009-00-Administrative-Order-of-PJ-re-COVID-19-041420.pdf

 

STATE OF THE VALLEY COURTS UPDATE PLANNED

APRIL 15, 2020 – The SFVBA Bench-Bar Committee will convene tomorrow, Thursday, April 16, for a State of the Valley Courts Update and FAQs Regarding COVID-19.

The session will feature Judge Huey P. Cotton, Judge David B. Gelfound, Judge Darrell Mavis, Judge Virginia Keeny and Judge Joseph A. Brandolino and will include updates on courtroom and courthouse closures, what matters each department is handling, expected changes, etc.

If you have any questions for the panel, please submit them to info@sfvba.org by 4:00 p.m. today, Wednesday, April 15.

 

LASC COOPERATES ON RELEASE OF ADULTS DURING COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

APRIL 13, 2020 – Since March 24, 700 adults have been released from the Los Angeles County jail system as a result of an efficient multi-agency process agreed upon by County justice partners, according to Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, along with Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles County Prosecutors’ Association and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, have collaborated on this ongoing process to identify and agree on individuals appropriate for release.

To date, Supervising Criminal Judge Sam Ohta has signed 16 orders that modify sentences to permit early release of persons in County jail within 60 days of release. Under the stipulation, these individuals were released with or without supervision or to community-based organizations for treatment.

Under the agreement, any remaining time on a jail sentence less than 60 days is reduced to zero. To save time and promote social distancing, the prosecution and defense waived resentencing hearings and the defendants waived their appearance in court.

In addition, the orders call for the release pre-trial defendants on their own recognizance. These defendants will be required to show up for future court dates.

 

IMMEDIATE TEMPORARY RELIEF ORDERED FOR ALL TRAFFIC AND NON-TRAFFIC INFRACTION DEFENDANTS

APRIL 13, 2020 – Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile has announced the Court will immediately institute a program of temporary relief for all Traffic and Non-Traffic Infraction defendants.

The relief announced today includes a 90-day grace period on all Traffic and Non-Traffic Infraction matters. The Court will take no action to send such matters to collections if they remain unpaid or assess the permissible Civil Assessments. Defendants do not need to contact the Clerk’s Office to take advantage of this relief.

In addition, Traffic Infraction defendants who have suspended driver’s licenses due to unpaid tickets can now call the Court to set a future hearing date and immediately have the Court request a release of their Driver’s License Hold from the DMV. Defendants should be aware that COVID-19 has affected the DMV’s ability to process these requests, so there may be some delays in having the holds lifted.

For complete details, go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20-NR-PRESIDING-JUDGE-BRAZILE-ANNOUNCES-TRAFFIC-RELIEF.pdf

 

ABA LAUNCHES COMPREHENSIVE PANDEMIC RESOURCE PAGE

APRIL 9, 2020 – The American Bar Association’s Task Force on Legal Needs Arising Out of the 2020 Pandemic has launched a new webpage to provide information about resources, changes in benefits and emerging legal issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The task force, which includes representatives from the top legal organizations in the country, was created in response to the growing legal needs of ordinary Americans arising from the COVID-19 emergency.

The webpage includes resources on technology for remote service delivery, court closings and procedural changes, legal needs, emerging legal issues, public benefits programs and pro bono mobilization.

The site also serves as a clearinghouse for valuable information such as practice tools for remote work, updates on new benefits provided in the CARES Act, protections against evictions and other actions due to job losses, court closings and mobilization of pro bono efforts. Visit the site often for updates.

Go to https://www.americanbar.org/advocacy/the-aba-task-force-on-legal-needs-arising-out-of-the-2020-pandem/

 

ESSENTIAL JUVENILE DEPENDENCY HEARINGS BEING HELD REMOTELY

APRIL 9, 2020 – As part of the Court’s extensive work to implement remote appearance technology throughout the nation’s largest trial court, Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile has announced.that all essential Dependency hearings are being conducted via WebEx.

Delinquency hearings – to the extent permitted by law – are being held remotely in all locations: Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse, Pomona South Courthouse, Sylmar Juvenile Courthouse, Eastlake Juvenile Courthouse, Inglewood Juvenile Courthouse, Compton Courthouse and the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse.

Another remote technology pilot is planned for LPS Conservatorships in the Hollywood Courthouse.

For complete details, visit https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/NR_Remote_Appearances_V3-003.pdf

 

ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

APRIL 8, 2010 –  The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people.

However, some taxpayers who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the economic impact payment.

Go to https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know for full details.

 

COURT ADVISES THE PUBLIC TO BE AWARE OF CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 SCAMS 

APRIL 6, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in a surge of phishing scams and other cyberattacks. As a result, the Los Angeles Superior Court is advising the public to exercise caution when opening any COVID-19 or pandemic-themed email or when responding to calls from anyone alleging to offer assistance.

Examples include emails appearing to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, or other reputable authorities.

Fake emails (also known as spoofs) generally purport to offer information and updates on the unfolding crisis from trusted authorities or companies to trick users to click links and attachments to malicious content.

Some of these fake electronic communications may contain an attachment or a link that installs a virus or other spyware on the computer or mobile device. Other communications, for example a telephone call, make fraudulent demands to pay a fine or provide personal information, such as a Social Security number.

For complete details, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/NR-20-Coronavirus-Phishing-Scams.pdf

 

USPTO ANNOUNCES EXTENSIONS TO FILE CERTAIN PATENTS AND TRADEMARKS

APRIL 6, 2020 – The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced extensions to the time allowed to file certain patent and trademark-related documents and to pay certain required fees.

These actions “are an exercise of temporary authority provided to the USPTO by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) signed by President Trump on March 27,” the agency said.

“Inventors and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy, and we recognize that many of them are having difficulty as a result of the effects of COVID-19,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu. “We are especially mindful of the outsized impact on small businesses and independent inventors, and have provided additional relief for these groups. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure not only that inventors and entrepreneurs can weather the storm, but that they can hit the ground running once it passes.”

The USPTO has made operational adjustments to keep its employees and the public safe as it remains open for business. In-person meetings, such as hearings and examiner interviews, are being conducted virtually by phone and video until further notice.

Full details of the agency’s announcement can be found at https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/news-updates/uspto-announces-extension-certain-patent-and-trademark-related-timing

 

TIME DEADLINES FOR LASC ARRAIGNMENTS, PRELIMINARY HEARINGS AND TRIALS EXTENDED

APRIL 2, 2020 – Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile announced today the implementation of the Emergency Order issued by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye on March 30, 2020, that was in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order issued on Friday, March 27, 2020, and the unanimous action taken by the Judicial Council of California (JCC) on Saturday, March 28, 2020.

“The continuous operation of our courts is essential for our constitutional form of government, for providing due process and protecting the public,” said Presiding Judge Brazile. “Therefore, the courts must remain open.”

On March 28, 2020, the Judicial Council met in emergency session to consider the Chief Justice’s order requiring superior courts to suspend jury trials for 60 days, among other actions. The Judicial Council unanimously authorized and supported the Chief Justice issuing statewide emergency orders to extend statutory guidelines for preliminary hearings, arraignments, and last day trials, in both Criminal and Civil proceedings.

The Court will also implement, where possible, technology for telephonic and video arraignments in Misdemeanor and Felony courtrooms. Also, by next week, every Dependency courtroom should be using video WebEx for hearings.

 

U.S. BANKRUPTCY COURT UPDATES OPERATIONS

APRIL 2, 2020 – Maureen A. Tighe, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Central District of California, has amended its previously released General Order outlining the Court’s operations during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the new G.O., amendments have been made in the Court’s handling of telephonic and in-person appearances, Chapter 13 filings, Judges and courtesy copies, mediations, cash, signatures, the filing of petitions by persons who lack legal representation, filing fees, the filing of pleadings by non-attorneys, travel, and temporary emergency rules.

Complete details of the latest General Order can be found at https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Amended-GO-04-02.pdf

 

ABA PRESIDENT URGES LEGAL SERVICES BE DEEMED “ESSENTIAL”

MARCH 31, 2020 – American Bar Association President Judy Perry Martinez recently sent a letter to the director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, asking that, in the event of a national “stay at home” order, legal services be included in the definition of “essential services.”

Lawyers “are embracing technology and working from home as much as possible,” she wrote, “but some legal services must be delivered in person, whether because state law requires it or because it is a best practice.”

To read the letter in its entirty, go to https://www.covid19.law/2020/03/aba-president-calls-for-us-federal-government-to-include-legal-services-to-be-essential-services-that-are-exempt-from-stay-at-home-orders/#page=1

 

COUNTY SHERIFF TO REDEPLOY DEPUTIES ASSIGNED TO COURTHOUSES

MARCH 30, 2020 – Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva today announced they have collaborated on COVID-19-related reductions in court operations, which allows for the redeployment of some deputies to support county law enforcement.

The Sheriff’s Department is responsible for public safety and security in all 38 Los Angeles County courthouses. During the ongoing public health crisis, the deputies have taken on additional duties of helping to enforce social distancing.

For the complete directive, please go to https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/NR_PJ-SHERIFF-JOINT-NEWS-RELEASE.pdf

 

SFVBA STAFF WORKING REMOTELY, FACILITY REMAINS CLOSED 

MARCH 27, 2020 – In accordance with the Stay At Home/Safer At Home orders, the SFVBA has extended the office closure until at least April 19 and maintains the operational changes announced on March 17.

PROGRAMS/MEETING/EVENTS: As previously announced, SFVBA in-person events and meetings through the end of April have been re-scheduled as webinars or conference calls or postponed or canceled. The calendar page of the website contains up-to-date information on SFVBA programs. We are considering the possibility of once again hosting the Meet the Experts | Summer Party, and hope to confirm the popular event, assuming large gatherings are advisable. To download the posters discussed during yesterday’s webinar on Issues Impacting You Workforce, click FFCRA Federal and FFCRA Non-Federal. For additional labor-related resources, visit DOL COVID-19 resources; Poster Frequently Asked Questions. For further information and resources on safeguards: Corona-virus.la; Covid19.ca.gov; CDC; LA Public Health; Coronavirus.gov​; and USA.gov/Coronavirus.

COURT UPDATES: The SFVBA is in constant communication with the state and federal courts, and other agencies regarding current updates. To keep up-to-date on the latest developments, please visit the COVID-19 Updates page on the Bar website. We will continue to deliver timely updates by email and post regular updates on our Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram pages.

ATTORNEY REFERRAL SERVICE: The lines remain open, and many people are reaching out seeking legal assistance. (818) 340-4529.

PROBATE SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES: Effective immediately, and at the request of the Los Angeles Superior Court, all settlement conferences have been taken off calendar through May 31, 2020.

MANDATORY FEE ARBITRATION (MFA): We are permitting electronic filing on new arbitration matters, which you can learn about here. Arbitrations that are currently pending the appointment of an arbitration panel should expect delays by an additional 30-60 days. Anyone with a scheduled hearing between March and April 2020 should contact Sonia Bernal, MFA Program Administrator.

Our thoughts are especially with anyone affected by the novel coronavirus, and with the essential workforce that is stepping up to provide essential services and keep our communities safe.

To our members and partners, we thank you for being part of the SFVBA family. We value your contributions to the profession and commitment to the community. Please continue to send your questions, ideas, and feedback to info@sfvba.org. As we go forward, we will be sure to keep you updated.

 

LASC ORDERS RELEASE OF SELECTED COUNTY JAIL INMATES AWAITING TRIAL

MARCH 25, 2020 – The Los Angeles Superior Court has announced an expedited court process to release an agreed-upon list of pretrial inmates being held in jail before trial.

Based upon the Justice Partners’ best effort to balance the public health needs of the jail population and the public safety needs of the community, they have created a stipulated list of persons to be released by the Court.

The prosecution and defense will bring a joint motion to the court for an order to release the inmates on the stipulated list. The agreed-upon people will not be brought to court for a hearing. Instead, the release will be effective upon review and execution of multiple orders by the Judge Sam Ohta, Supervising Judge of the Criminal Court.

The list of people subject to release was vetted and agreed upon by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office; Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office; Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office; and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The parties collaborated and reached a stipulated agreement on an efficient process for the release of pretrial defendants after receiving a COVID-19-related advisory recommendation on criminal procedures issued by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye on March 20.

 

ALL CALIFORNIA SUPERIOR COURT JURY TRIALS SUSPENDED FOR 60 DAYS

MARCH 24, 2020 – California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye on Monday issued a statewide order suspending all jury trials in California’s superior courts for 60 days and allowing courts to immediately adopt new rules to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chief Justice said her order is aimed at ensuring California courts—which remain open as “essential services” under Gov. Newsom’s stay-home executive order—can meet stringent health directives, such as maintaining a six-foot distance from others, to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Said the Chief Justice: “Courts cannot comply with these health restrictions and continue to operate as they have in the past. Court proceedings require gatherings of court staff, litigants, attorneys, witnesses, and juries, well in excess of the numbers allowed for gathering under current executive and health orders. Many court facilities in California are ill-equipped to effectively allow the social distancing and other public health requirements required to protect people involved in court proceedings and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”

 

ONLY AUTHORIZED PERSONS ALLOWED TO ENTER ANY L.A. COUNTY COURTHOUSE 

MARCH 24, 2020 – Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile today signed a General Order to enact unprecedented measures in the nation’s largest trial court to protect the public’s health and safety during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Presiding Judge Brazile took this action after obtaining emergency powers pursuant to the provisions of California Government Code section 68115 and authorization by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, who conveyed those powers to him last week.

Presiding Judge Brazile ordered, effective immediately, as follows:

  • Access to any and all Los Angeles County Courthouses shall be restricted at all times to Judges, Commissioners, court staff and other authorized persons until further notice;
  • Access to any and all court proceedings, including but not limited to arraignments, preliminary hearings, motions, ex partes or trials, shall be limited to parties, attorneys, witnesses and authorized persons until further notice;
  • The full and complete temporary public closure of the Sylmar Juvenile Courthouse for three (3) days;
  • The full and complete public closure of the Beverly Hills, Catalina, and Spring Street courthouses, until further notice;
  • The Executive Officer/Clerk of Court may provide telephonic and electronic assistance to assist in those essential services as outlined in the March 17, 2020 and March 19, 2020 Administrative Order of the Presiding Judge re: COVID-19 Pandemic;
  • The suspension of any and all criminal or civil jury or non-jury trials per the March 19, 2020 Administrative Order of the Presiding Judge re: COVID-19 Pandemic, including unlawful detainer trials, until further notice;
  • In all criminal cases, a 90-day continuance of any and all status reports and progress reports;
  • The continuance of any and all criminal misdemeanor cases without-of-custody defendants, for 90 days, unless otherwise statutorily required;
  • Bail review hearings under Penal Code section 1275 for any and all misdemeanor or felony pretrial detainees will be deemed a priority matter on the court’s calendar for the next 60 days; and,
  • Social distancing of at least six (6) feet shall be enforced in all courthouses and courtrooms, to the extent possible.

 

U.S BANKRUPTCY COURT DETAILS NEW OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK

MARCH 24, 2020 – Chief Judge Maureen A. Tighe of the Central District of California, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Region 16, has issued an additional statement outlining the procedures of the Court related to the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to the detailed statement, the Court has “continued in-person § 341 meetings scheduled in all Chapter 7, 12 and 13 bankruptcy cases, including originally scheduled and continued meetings, pending in all divisions of the Central District of California (Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Riverside, San Fernando Valley, and Northern Divisions) beginning on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 through Friday, April 10, 2020.”

The statement can be read in its entirety at https://www.cacb.uscourts.gov/sites/cacb/files/documents/general-orders/GO%2020-03.pdf

 

JUVENILE DEPENDENCY JUDGE UNDER 14-DAY QUARANTINE

MARCH 24, 2020 – Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile announced a Judge assigned to a Dependency department in the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Courthouse notified the Court today of being diagnosed with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Although the Judge has not been tested, in an abundance of caution, the Court has asked the affected Judge and Court staff to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Due to privacy issues, names will not be released.

The Court also has notified the agencies and attorney offices assigned to handle the cases in the affected department, including the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services; Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers; Children’s Law Center; Office of the Los Angeles County Counsel; and the Sheriff’s Department.

After receiving notification from the Judge, the Court cleaned and disinfected the courtroom and the Judge’s chambers according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The courthouse, which handles Adoptions and Juvenile Dependency, will remain open. The Court will make every effort to advise all persons who may have been exposed to the affected Judge.

 

SYLMAR COURTHOUSE CLOSED FOR THREE DAYS AFTER POSITIVE COVID-19 EXPOSURE

March 22, 2020 – Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile has ordered an immediate 3-day closure of the Sylmar Courthouse after a Deputy Public Defender assigned to the Sylmar Courthouse tested positive for COVID-19.

The Sylmar Courthouse, which handles Juvenile Delinquency cases exclusively in two courtrooms, will re-open on Thursday, March 26.

Both courtrooms have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected according to CDC guidelines and will be cleaned again on Monday. Cases on calendar for the next three days in Sylmar will be moved temporarily to the Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse in Lancaster.

In addition, judges, attorneys, courtroom staff and the bailiff at the Sylmar Courthouse have been directed to quarantine for 14 days.

The Court is working with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which advised Presiding Judge Brazile about the need for those who were directly exposed in the courtroom to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The order was issued pursuant to Judge Brazile’s inherent powers as Presiding Judge and pursuant to the emergency powers he obtained on March 16 from Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye under Government Code Section 68115.

Presiding Judge Brazile was notified over the weekend that an attorney assigned to the Public Defender’s Office tested positive last week for COVID-19 after caring for a relative who also tested positive.

In accordance with CDC and Public Health Office guidelines, affected Judges and staff will self-quarantine for 14 days.

The Court also notified the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Department of Probation, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, County Counsel Mary Wickham, District Attorney Jackie Lacey, City Attorney Mike Feuer, and the Alternate Public Defender’s Office.

 

MARCH 24 JUDICIAL COUNCIL MEETING CANCELLED

MARCH 22, 2020 – In her role as chair of the Judicial Council of California, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has cancelled the Judicial Council meeting scheduled for March 24.

“Providing justice has always been understood to be indispensable to government and democracy, and the Governor’s stay-home executive order acknowledges the essential service of the court system,” the Chief Justice said.

“However, all our judicial council members serve as leaders in their local courts—as judicial officers, court executives, or attorneys. I do not want to take them away from their very important court roles. Any pressing business of the Judicial Council can be postponed or accomplished by circulating order via email. Judicial Council members should attend to essential work in their trial and appellate courts.” (See California Rule of Court 10.5)

In addition to cancelling the upcoming meeting, the Chief Justice asked the Judicial Council’s rules committee to review and recommend changes to court rules so the court system can respond quickly and efficiently to ongoing needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

LASC CLERK’S OFFICES CLOSE TO THE PUBLIC; WILL SHIFT TO TELEPHONIC COMMUNICATIONS 

MARCH 20, 2020 – Effective Monday, March 23, and until further notice, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County will close the Clerk’s Offices at all 38 courthouses in response to the COVID-19 public health threat.

Most courthouses, except the Beverly Hills and Catalina courthouses, will remain open for time-sensitive, essential court hearings and matters in accordance with Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile’s General Orders.

The Court is establishing telephone numbers and other means for litigants, counsel and the public to conduct limited, time-sensitive and essential services. Special provisions will be made for the filing and processing of Restraining Orders, ex parte proceedings in Family Law, Probate and Civil, and certain types of Emergency Writ Petitions.

Complete details can be found at https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/PN_PR-ClerksOffices_03_20_20.pdf

 

U.S. DISTRICT COURT RELEASES CONTINUITY OF OPERATIONS PLAN

MARCH 19, 2020 – The U.S. District Court has issued a Continuity of Operations Plan ­(COOP) for the Central District of California.

The COOP takes effect March 23, 2020 through and including May 1, 2020, and may be extended or inactivated as necessary. The activation of the COOP Plan “is necessary to ensure the continuous performance of essential functions and operations of the Court.”

All of the Courthouses of the Central District of California will be closed to the public except for hearings on criminal duty matters.

According to the COOP, for example, no hearings will go forward in civil cases except for emergency time-sensitive matters, such as requests for temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions, as ordered by the assigned judicial officer.

In addition, any hearings on emergency civil matters will proceed telephonically only.

Full details of the COOP can be found at https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Federal-District-Court.pdf

 

LASC TO RE-OPEN TOMORROW FOR ESSENTIAL AND EMERGENCY FUNCTIONS

MARCH 19, 2020 – Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile today announced an amended General Order that clarifies the time-sensitive and essential functions the Court will handle when it reopens most of its courthouses tomorrow after a three-day closure.

According to the announcement, 36 of 38 courthouses Will Open at 8:30 a.m., though nearly 400 courtrooms will remain closed

“The Court is working with our Judicial Officers and employees on a court-wide operations plan designed to keep as many people out of our courthouses as possible to slow the spread of COVID-19, while prioritizing our time-sensitive, essential functions,” Presiding Judge Brazile said. “Although 36 of 38 courthouses in Los Angeles County will re-open tomorrow, our trial court operations will be downsized and scaled back substantially due to the closure of nearly 400 courtrooms starting Friday, March 20, 2020.”

Today’s “Administrative Order of the Presiding Judge Re: COVID-19 Pandemic” retroactively amends his original 30-day emergency order signed on March 17, 2020, and remains in effect until April 16, 2020.

 

U.S BANKRUPTCY COURT OUTLINES OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK

MARCH 19, 2020 – Chief Judge Maureen A. Tighe of the Central District of California, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, has issued a statement outlining the procedures of the Court related to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The statement was drafted after deliberation at an emergency meeting of the Bankruptcy Court Board Of Judges of this District held on March 18.

According to the statement, “telephonic appearances are mandatory, except for trials and other evidentiary hearings through April 30, 2020, unless otherwise ordered by the court. All parties are required to appear by telephone at all hearings that require an appearance, except trials and other evidentiary hearings unless otherwise ordered by the court due to an unusual circumstance. There will be no physical access to any courtroom without the specific permission of the presiding judge. Instructions for telephonic appearances are posted on the Bankruptcy Court’s website (www.cacb.uscourts.gov) and there will be no cost for parties not represented by an attorney.”

The provisions, which also include directives on mediation, Chapter 13, and the handling of cash and signatures, “are temporary and may be vacated, amended or extended as necessary,” the statement said.

The complete statement can be read in full at https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/GO-20-02.pdf

 

TRAFFIC TRIAL INFRACTION, ARRANGEMENTS CONTINUED FOR 30 DAYS

MARCH 18, 2020 – Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile today announced that effective Friday, March 20, 2020, all Traffic and Non-Traffic Infraction court hearings, including trials, arraignments and other Infraction appearances, scheduled between March 17 to April 16, 2020, will be continued for at least 30 days under the emergency order he issued in response to COVID-19-related impacts on Trial Court operations.

“Pursuant to the inherent statutory power I have as the Presiding Judge and the emergency powers granted to me by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil- Sakauye under Government Code Section 68115, I am ordering a continuance of all Traffic and Non-Traffic matters countywide through April 16,” Presiding Judge Brazile said. “It is imperative that we, the nation’s largest trial court, continue to prioritize time-sensitive and essential functions to serve our most vulnerable as we reorganize and reduce our trial court operations and focus on ways we can slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Any Traffic Infraction matters, and all other Infraction matters heard in our Traffic Infraction courts on the date between March 17 through April 16, 2020, will be continued to a later date. This action is authorized under the General Order Judge Brazile signed March 17 to close all courtrooms except to process cases presenting time-sensitive issues and essential functions.

“We will continue to operate our court and reorganize our responsibilities based upon balancing public health directives and meeting our statutory and constitutional due process requirements,” Judge Brazile said. “I do not make these decisions lightly. In this national public health crisis, we must prioritize emergency services and access to justice for the most vulnerable people in our communities while implementing social distancing measures in our courthouses.”

People who had court hearing dates between March 17 and April 16 for Traffic Infraction and Non-Traffic Infraction hearings, including trials, arraignments and other Infraction appearances, will receive updated Court notices by mail.

More than one million Traffic Infraction matters – 971,818 Traffic citations, and 37,283 Non-Traffic citations – are filed annually in the Court, including citations for Vehicle Code and Non-Traffic-related Infractions.

Traffic Infraction matters are heard at the following courthouses: Beverly Hills, Chatsworth, Compton, Downey, El Monte, Glendale, Governor George Deukmejian (Long Beach), Inglewood, Metropolitan, Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Torrance, Van Nuys West, and West Covina.

Many traffic matters can be handled without an in-person court appearance by using the Court’s website at:  http://www.lacourt.org/division/traffic/traffic2.aspx

 

LASC ISSUES NEW IMPLEMENTATION ORDER

MARCH 17, 2020 – Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile has issued an implementation order that “will allow us to comply with social distancing and to prevent the spread of the virus within our community.”

The Court, he said, “will reopen Friday only for emergency and essential matters to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.”

The order goes into effect immediately and will remain in effect until April 16 “and may be amended as circumstances require.”

The order is being issued pursuant to the emergency powers granted to him yesterday by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye under Government Code Section 68115.

Text of the complete order can be found at https://sfvba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/PJ_Order_March_17_2020-FINAL.pdf

 

SFVBA OUTLINES NEW OPERATIONAL CHANGES

MARCH 17, 2020 – In an effort to promote the health and safety of members, employees, and mitigate community spread of COVID-19, the San fernando Valley Bar Association has enacted the following operational changes in effect immediately until March 31 or further notice.

SFVBA will maintain normal business hours of 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Thursday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Fridays. We have enabled each department to seamlessly provide services remotely, with our management team and officers overseeing day-to-day functions and long-term planning to ensure the continuity of operations.

All SFVBA in-person events and meetings through March 31 –both at the Bar offices and off-site– have been re-scheduled as webinars or conference calls, or postponed or canceled. The calendar page of the website contains up-to-date information on SFVBA programs. If you registered for an upcoming event, you will receive more information shortly. We will re-evaluate later this month whether we are able to host events as planned. In the event that we can resume normal programming at that point, there are several events already on our calendar, which you can find here.

You can continue to reach us by email or by phone. Visit Our Team page for contact information. However, we ask for your patience and understanding as we respond to the sweeping new restrictions designed to keep us all safe.

MOCK TRIAL COMPETITION CANCELLED: SFVBA Mock Trial Committee chose to cancel the April 17-18 Mock Trial Competition. In choosing to cancel rather than postpone or pursue a different option, the determining factor was the input into how the current pandemic has been impacting the law school students. The Competition Committee does not wish to add to their burdens during this already trying time. The entire Committee, and Chairman, Kyle M. Ellis, wishes to thank each participating school, Judge Michael D. Carter and the Burbank courthouse, and each sponsor that pledged their support. We will be back next year with a new competition prompt.

PUBLIC SERVICES UPDATE: The Attorney Referral Service continues to seamlessly field its operations in fielding phone calls and emails from the public seeking legal assistance. The ARS is equipped to work remotely, so there will be no downtime. Panelists should contact Miguel Villatoro to advise him of any changes to your office intake procedures, and to confirm your availability to handle new referrals and consultations. If you have cases, which you cannot take, or clients which you cannot serve, refer them to the SFVBA’s CA State Bar certified-ARS, certification #0006, (818) 340-4529.

PROBATE SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES: Effective immediately, and at the request of the Los Angeles Superior Court, all settlement conferences have been taken off calendar through May 31, 2020.

MANDATORY FEE ARBITRATION (MFA): We await approval from the State Bar of California to permit electronic filing on new arbitration matters, which you can learn about here. We anticipate that, based on the circumstances, we will be permitted to accommodate electronic filings. Arbitrations that are currently pending the appointment of an arbitration panel should expect delays by an additional 30-60 days. Anyone with a hearing in March 2020 should contact Sonia Bernal, MFA Program Administrator.

Thank you for your continued support of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, the Attorney Referral Service and the Valley Community Legal Foundation. We look forward to resuming regular operations soon.

 

LASC TO SCALE DOWN OPERATIONS EFFECTIVE TOMORROW

MARCH 15, 2020 – Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile today announced the Court will begin scaling down operations tomorrow to achieve social distancing in all 38 courthouses. Additional public protection measures will be evaluated and announced tomorrow or Tuesday.

“As the largest trial court in the nation, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County is methodically scaling back non-essential court operations as part of a phased approach,” Presiding Judge Brazile said. “We will continue to provide services for the most vulnerable in our communities and remain open to handle criminal matters subject to statutory deadlines.”

Over the weekend, Presiding Judge Brazile notified the Judges of the Los Angeles County bench that:

  • No new jurors will be summoned for any Civil or Criminal jury trials for the next 30 days;
  • The trial Judge for any jury trial in session may exercise his or her discretion to either continue the trial or declare a mistrial;
  • The trial Judge for any non-jury trial in session may exercise his or her discretion to either continue the trial or declare a mistrial; and,
  • Self-help centers will be closed tomorrow, except for telephone assistance with restraining order preparation by calling (213) 830-0845;
  • Judges were encouraged to consider ways to achieve social distancing in their courtrooms by offering telephonic appearances and other strategies to reduce courtroom traffic.

Here are some additional updates:

  • Additional signage, which is attached to this news release, will be posted beginning tomorrow on courthouse entry points and on courtroom doors advising the public about restrictions on entering our courthouses or courtrooms;
  • The Court’s website homepage (www.lacourt.org) has been updated with a new COVID-19 news center at the top of the page;
  • The Court will continue to communicate updates on its Twitter page;
  • The Court continues to emphasize the importance of staying home when you are sick and frequent, proper hand-washing; and,
  • The Court expanded its custodial cleaning program and has made sanitizing products available throughout courthouses in response to CDC and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommendations.

For the latest updates on Coronavirus/COVID-19-related impacts to Court operations, please consult the Court’s COVID-19 News Center located at the top of the LASC homepage (www.lacourt.org), and follow us on Twitter @LASuperiorCourt.