The presiding judge of Los Angeles County’s court system has issued an order authorizing a new set of emergency continuances for criminal trials and juvenile dependency matters as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, court officials announced Friday.
“While the state and county public health guidelines for managing COVID-19 have been lifted and vaccinations increase in California, the court is eagerly planning to align its operations with recent revisions to state and Cal/OSHA workplace guidance,” Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor said in a written statement. “We are reviewing these new regulations to soon enhance in-person access to our courthouses and services while continuing to offer new convenient customer service and remote courtroom appearance solutions implemented during the pandemic.”
Face coverings are still required to be worn by everyone inside the courthouses unless they can certify a medical exemption.
The order allows for:
— the time within which a criminal trial must be held to be extended by up to 30 days in cases in which the statutory deadline would otherwise fall between June 19 and July 16;
— the time for a preliminary hearing following arraignment to be extended from 10 court days to no more than 30 court days;
— pretrial hearings in misdemeanor cases set between June 19 and July 16 for out-of-custody defendants to be extended by 90 calendar days unless statutorily required to be held sooner and the defendant does not consent to a continuance; and
— minors taken into custody pending dependency proceedings to be held up to seven days in cases when the deadline for release would otherwise fall on or between June 19 and July 16.
In a Jan. 15 statement announcing the COVID-19 deaths of a Superior Court traffic clerk and a court interpreter, Taylor noted that the court was continuing to “implement extensive safety measures in all of our 38 courthouses” but that “none of us is immune to this plague on our nation.”