LOS ANGELES – All essential juvenile dependency hearings will be done remotely during the coronavirus crisis, the presiding judge of Los Angeles County’s Superior Court system announced Thursday.
Attorneys and parties are appearing remotely through WebEx video or audio in all dependency courtrooms in the Alfred J. McCourtney Juvenile Justice Center Courthouse in Lancaster and the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Courthouse in Monterey Park.
“Remote technology is a solution for social distancing in our courthouses and supports the court’s general orders to prioritize time-sensitive, essential services and hearings during this public health crisis,” Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile said in a written statement. “The court’s extensive focus in recent years to leverage technology in all of our operations laid the foundation for this quick transition.”
He noted that the court system has “undertaken a vastly scaled-down operation” in which more than 75% of the court’s 600 courtrooms have temporarily closed since a March 17 order to cut back operations.
A combination of audio and video appearances is available in many of the courtrooms, with the capacity continuing to expand each week, according to the court.
On March 23, court officials announced that a judge who was handling juvenile dependency cases at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Courthouse had been diagnosed with symptoms consistent with the coronavirus and was asked to self-quarantine, along with court staff.
The judge, whose name was not released, had not been tested and the action was taken “in an abundance of caution,” according to a statement issued last month by the Los Angeles Superior Court.
The court also notified attorneys and other agencies with cases in the affected courtroom, including employees with the Department of Children and Family Services, the Children’s Law Center, the Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, County Counsel and the Sheriff’s Department.
The courtroom and the judge’s chambers were cleaned in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials said.