LA Superior Court Extends Deadlines for Criminal Cases by Two Weeks Because of Omicron Variant of Covid-19
"Together we must do all that we can to keep each other safe as we move toward the other side of this winter surge."
January 21, 2022
Citing the surge in Covid 19 infections caused by the kinder and gently Omicron variant, the LA Superior Court has extended criminal deadlines two weeks.
Unlike Civil litigants, criminal defendants have the 6th amendment constitutional right to a speedy trial. In California, that ordinarily means a criminal case must go to trial within 70 days of the time it is filed. The presiding judge has declared an emergency, and extended that by two weeks. Is this important? Well considering it affects the constitutional rights of many hundreds of people; yes, it is.
The press release from the Superior Court follows hereinbelow.
PRESIDING JUDGE ERIC C. TAYLOR AMENDS ORDER TO EXTEND LAST-DAY DEADLINES FOR CRIMINAL TRIALS AND PRELIMINARY HEARINGS AS COVID INFECTIONS, HOSPITALIZATIONS SURGE IN LA COUNTY
Civil Division Prioritizing Virtual Mandatory Settlement Conferences to Facilitate Case Resolution
Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor today extended last-day deadlines for Criminal trials, preliminary hearings and other Criminal matters to January 28, 2022 as the Omicron variant continues to infect LA County residents at unprecedented rates. The amended General Order, issued pursuant to the emergency powers granted to him by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye under Government Code section 68115, will continue to reduce foot traffic in courthouses as hospitalizations and deaths continue to escalate this week and Omicron transmission causes record numbers of COVID cases throughout the county.
"With the troubling number of COVID hospitalizations increasing to more than 4,000 in LA County, the Court remains committed to prioritizing the health and safety of court users, justice partners, judicial officers and employees, while continuing to provide safe access to justice," Presiding Judge Taylor said. "Extending certain Criminal deadlines under this amended Order will help us to achieve this balance. Today's amended Order provides scheduling flexibility to judicial officers and reduces the number of attorneys, witnesses, jurors and others in our courthouses.
Together we must do all that we can to keep each other safe as we move toward the other side of this winter surge."
The LA County Department of Public Health reported 45,076 new cases yesterday. The Order, which is attached, extends deadlines as follows:
(i) 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, from January 7, 2022 to January 28, 2022, inclusive.
(ii) 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 January 5, 2022 to January 28, 2022, inclusive.
(iii) Extends by 90 calendar days post-conviction progress reports set on January 5, 2022 to January 28, 2022, inclusive.
(iv) Extends by 90 calendar days, unless statutorily required to be held sooner and the defendant does not consent to a continuance, out-of-custody misdemeanor pretrial hearings set on January 5, 2022 to January 28, 2022, inclusive.
The extensions for certain Juvenile Dependency matters issued in General Order 2021-GEN-037- 00 remain in place until January 28, 2022.
The 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. 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. A list of ADA liaisons is available at http://www.lacourt.org/ada/adahome.aspx.
In the interest of safeguarding the well-being of court users, persons seeking services from the Clerk's Office and court support services are encouraged to schedule appointments. For telephone or video assistance, or to schedule an appointment, the telephone number for each courthouse is listed at the courthouse entry and posted on the Court's website, http://www.lacourt.org.
During the current surge, Civil judicial officers are prioritizing virtual Mandatory Settlement Conferences to facilitate case resolution. The Court also is encouraging attorneys to discuss whether it is critical that their case proceed now to a jury trial and, if so, inquire with the department about options for spacing people around the courtroom as much as possible and whether larger courtrooms are available for jury selection.
Presiding Judge Taylor also strongly encourages litigants and attorneys to appear remotely for their hearing using the Court's LACourtConnect system. To register to appear remotely, visit lacourt.org/lacc/ to learn more and start the registration process. Video appearances are strongly encouraged.
For more information, follow the Court on Twitter (@LASuperiorCourt) and visit the Court's website (LACourt.org).