By David Ganezer
Observer Staff Writer 

Unlawful Detainer Trials, Family Law Hearings and 2 day Trials Allowed to Proceed in Los Angeles Superior Courts

Most Civil Trials Continued Until January 2021; All Other Civil Non-Jury Trials May Resume on or After November 16, 2020

 

October 14, 2020

Jurors shown wearing masks in this photo. The LA Superior Court will allow some jury trials to proceed.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court will move forward with certain jury trials and non-jury trials, announced the presiding judge announced on Friday. Masks, social distancing and hand washing will have to protect jurors, so that civil and criminal constitutional rights may be preserved during the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic.

Given that there is a Federal, a California State, and a Los Angeles County stay on evictions (lawyers call them "Unlawful Detainers"). It is unclear what Judge Brazile means when he says that Unlawful Detainer trials, some of them anyway, will proceed. Perhaps he means the trials can continue to judgment, but the Sheriff's Dept. will not enforce judgments by locking out tenants. If this is the meaning, it is not clearly explained by Judge Brazile's order.

A press release from the Los Angeles Superior Court dated October 9, 2020 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 that supports the Court's efforts to ramp up operations while prioritizing public health measures and social distancing protocols as the pandemic enters its seventh month.


"One of the most important principles of our constitutional democracy is the right of persons accused of a crime to have a speedy trial," Presiding Judge Brazile said. "Preserving that right while protecting the well-being of all participants in a trial during a pandemic involving a highly contagious respiratory virus is an unprecedented challenge for trial courts. Pursuant to Penal Code section 1050 and Government Code section 68115, the Court will give priority to criminal trials that were previously continued under a judicial emergency order (Penal Code §1382) in assigning available prospective jurors for either Misdemeanor or Felony jury trials. Presently, there are approximately 7,000 criminal cases that must be tried to satisfy defendants' statutory speedy trial rights."

Criminal jury trials have resumed with the Court's Here For You | Safe For You precautions in courthouses and courtrooms to protect all participants, including jurors, attorneys, witnesses, judicial officers, employees, and bailiffs.

The Order also details the resumption of:

• Small Claims and Traffic trials.

• Juvenile Dependency matters allowed under the Dependency Prioritization Plan,

which strictly limits the cases each Dependency courtroom may hear. Since Dependency courts resumed operations on June 22, 2020, the vast majority of proceedings have been held remotely.

• Certain Unlawful Detainer jury and non-jury trials, which resumed on October 5, 2020.

• Civil jury trials in preference cases under Code of Civil Procedure section 36 that can be tried in compliance with social distancing, which resumed on October 5, 2020.

• Non-jury trials in any other preference cases, which also resumed October 5, 2020.

• Family Law evidentiary proceedings, whether Family Code section 217 hearings or trials, other than Restraining Order hearings, that may be completed within two court days.

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.


 

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