LOS ANGELES (Updated April 24): “All civil trials scheduled to begin for the period March 17 through June 17 have been or will be continued by General Order. Because civil jury and non-jury trials are not included in the enumerated time-sensitive essential functions set out in these General Orders, they will be continued, or advanced and vacated and a trial setting conference will be scheduled. The parties will receive individual minute orders issued by the trial judge to whom the case is assigned continuing these trials to a date after June 17 or advancing and vacating the trial dates and scheduling a trial setting conference on or after June 22. The length of the continuance will be determined by reference to a number of factors, including most critically, the ongoing need to protect the public, potential jurors, attorneys, witnesses, court staff and judicial officers through the use of social distancing. Many courtrooms, jury boxes, jury deliberation rooms, audience seating and size and counsel table locations may not be well-suited to maintain the social distancing measures that we assume will continue even after our court moves into hearing non-emergency matters. Thus, our total available supply of jury trial-ready civil courtrooms may remain constrained for some period of time. The length of the continuance will also be influenced by the ability of our criminal courts to summons and secure a sufficient number of jurors to enable them to meet all constitutional speedy-trial requirements. Given that any pool of potential jurors must first be allocated to those criminal matters with constitutionally mandated trial dates, civil jury pools will be restricted for the foreseeable future. Further, limiting the ability of civil courts to resume civil jury trials immediately upon reopening of the courts to non-essential matters is the need to comply — to the greatest extent possible — with the statutory preference schemes articulated in CCP section 36, and the statutory mandates for unlawful detainer trials. The same considerations requiring the court to continue civil jury trials for the period from now until June 17 apply to those trials currently scheduled to begin on or after June 22. While the continuance orders may not be immediately issued, counsel should be prepared for the possibility that courts will find good cause for further continuances of non-preference civil jury trials throughout the summer. Because our courtrooms and courthouses are very likely still to be operating under social distancing requirements when we resume operations, counsel are strongly encouraged to appear telephonically for all calendar matters. In fact, our ability to resume calendars of any substantial size, is wholly dependent on counsel’s willingness to appear telephonically. The electronic filing system for non-complex civil matters continues to accept filings. Motions for Complex courts can be filed using drop boxes. Civil law and motion matters are not enumerated as time-sensitive essential proceedings under the Court’s existing and future General Orders. The Court at this time must direct its resources to ensuring that the constitutionally and statutorily mandated time-sensitive essential matters in criminal, dependency, delinquency, mental health, probate and family law can be timely heard and decided. Also, please keep in mind that more than 75% of the court staff is away from the courthouses during this emergency period. The court simply cannot process civil law and motion matters at this time.” More “All courtrooms will remain closed for judicial business through May 12, except time-sensitive, essential functions. All other matters will be continued by the Court. Access to all Los Angeles County courthouses remains restricted at all times to judges, commissioners, court staff, co-lessees, Judicial Council staff and vendors, and authorized persons.” More “Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile, in a webinar on Friday…speculated that civil trials will start up again in August or September, and said civil trials now scheduled for late June will probably be continued.” More “Effective March 23 and until further notice, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County will close the Clerk’s Offices at all 38 courthouses.” More

 

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