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By Sarah Storkin
Observer Staff Writer 

Wear your mask, it's time for jury duty During Covid

LA Court Begins Tackling Criminal Backlog - Resumes Criminal Jury Trials

 

September 18, 2020

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Jurors wearing masks in Washington State

Los Angeles County Superior Court will attempt to process a backlog of 7000 criminal cases despite Coronavirus. In order to do so, and give criminal defendants their day in Court, the Court will have to call jurors into court. Yes, apparently jury duty will resume. Bring your mask, needless to say.

Generally California defendants have the right to a trial within 60 or 70 days of being charged. Covid-19 doesn't alter criminal defendants' right to a speedy trial.

The press release from LASC follows:

Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile announced today that Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil- Sakauye authorized him to issue a new General Order pursuant to the emergency powers granted under Government Code 68115. As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County continues to seek to balance its obligation to render justice and its commitment to protect the health and well-being of everyone who visits or works in the courthouses during this challenging time.

"Presently, there are more than 7,000 criminal cases that must be tried to satisfy defendants' statutory speedy trial rights," Presiding Judge Brazile said. "As the Court continues to ramp up operations, we will prioritize 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. The Court has implemented many significant changes to the jury processes to protect jurors

and maintain social distancing standards, allowing us to get back to the business of the Court."

The first Criminal jury trial held since the shutdown began was completed the first week of September. The Court resumed Small Claims trials and Traffic non-jury trials in August. Juvenile Dependency courts resumed operations on June 22, 2020, and have held the vast majority of proceedings remotely, enabling litigants and counsel to access the courts safely.

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"Wearing a mask is required by law" in a supermarket.

"In order to provide options to in-person appearances, the Court has implemented remote appearance technology, audio and video, in every area of litigation," Presiding Judge Brazile said. "This project had an original roll-out schedule of 18 months, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of our judicial officers and court staff, these remote options have been successfully completed in just three months. The Court cannot mandate remote appearances for all hearings and case types, however, we strongly encourage the use of this technology where practical and applicable."

Consult the Order, which is attached, for its specific extensions.

The new General Order maintains and reiterates the previous orders of Presiding Judge Brazile regarding mandatory face coverings, observance of social distancing protocols, limited access to proceedings, and the need for appointments to visit the Clerk's Office and Self-Help Centers.

The Court's Here For You | Safe For You initiative is designed to provide a safe courthouse environment while offering services that allow court business to be conducted remotely. Information on Here For You | Safe For You can be found here and on the Court's Twitter page (@LASuperiorCourt).

 

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