On Friday, April 10th, Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile held a videoconference for about 1,200 members of various bar associations to address the status of the LASC and what to expect going forward.
Additionally, on Thursday, April 16th, Judge Joseph A. Brandolino, Judge Huey P. Cotton, Judge David B. Gelfound, Judge Virginia Keeny, and Judge Darrell Mavis held a remote session to provide a State of the Court update, covering FAQs regarding COVID-19.
Below are the primary takeaways from those virtual meetings. Please note that the extended “safer at home” order for LA County, and any future changes to that order, may ultimately have some impact on the timelines set below.
We will continue to do our best to provide ongoing updates as they become available. For the most current updates directly from LASC, please visit www.lacourt.org.
LASC Operations (County-Wide)
Court access is limited to attorneys, authorized persons, parties and witnesses until further notice.
Civil and family statutory deadlines have not been suspended due to the limited court operations. Filing deadlines must be adhered to, regardless of whether you receive a hearing date. When court operations aren’t as limited, priority will be given to criminal, unlawful detainer and civil matters.
The courtrooms will remained closed through May 12, 2020 for judicial business with the exception of the following time-sensitive, essential matters:
- Temporary restraining orders;
- Ex parte proceedings.
- Temporary restraining orders;
- Ex parte proceedings.
- Ex parte proceedings;
- Preliminary hearings;
- Search warrants;
- Sentencing and post-sentencing proceedings;
- Grand jury indictments.
The court emphasized the expectation that all counsel work together collaboratively and will be looking to see if counsel extended and treated each other with civility. A lack of civility and working collaboratively will be taken into consideration by judges looking back on how things were handled. The court is urging attorneys to not call the court or bring ex parte motions to continue a hearing date. Sanctions may be issued if situations as such arise.
Traffic and non-traffic matters have been given a 90-day grace period (effective April 10th).
Civil cases should be prepared during this time. Bench officers do not want to be informed that a case isn’t ready for a hearing once the courts have returned to normal operations.
Ex Parte hearings: Arrangements for CourtCall or a telephonic appearance should be made (if the Court does not have CourtCall, it is then okay to call the clerk). Papers should be filed the day before; electronically for civil matters and by fax or in the drop box for family law matters.
June 22, 2020 is the current target date for the court to begin to “ramp up”. All trials are suspended through June 22, 2020, and that is the earliest possible date for trials to resume.
No law and motion hearings will take place before June 22, 2020. Emergency (real emergency) ex partes are the only civil matters being heard.
Until further notice, parties are no longer able to use the Court Reservation System to reserve a law and motion date. Access to the CRS may resume on June 22, 2020.
No MSCs will take place until June 22, 2020, at the earliest.
The only court holidays for filing purposes in LASC were March 17-19. When calculating deadlines, you should continue to operate as though the courts are open (and use e-file).
In lighter news, during the emergency period and for 90 days thereafter, courtroom attire requirements will be lightened to allow business casual attire.
For further detail on individual Courthouses, the San Fernando Valley Bar Association has prepared a synopsis that breaks down the current operations for Van Nuys Courthouse – East, Van Nuys Courthouse – West, Northeast San Fernando / Santa Clarita, and North Central District. That synopsis can be found here.
The court does not have the ability to require parties to accept electronic service, although parties are free to stipulate to e-service.
All court notices for trial continuances, etc., will be sent by USPS.
Ramp-Up Expected to Begin June 22, 2020
When the court starts to ramp up, it will first have to deal with a large backlog of criminal and UD cases, with civil trials taking a backseat to that backlog. To that end, some civil judges are currently undergoing training so that they can hear criminal matters when the court resumes operations.
Once the court begins to hear civil cases, they will start with cases entitled to statutory preference (CCP § 36).
Cases currently set for trial after June 22, 2020 will “probably” be vacated and reset, but that has not been officially determined. As it stands now, it will be up to each judge.
Trial dates that have been vacated, or were declared a mistrial, will be reset but will not necessarily get priority over other cases.
Parties can stipulate to a new trial date; however, the farther out the proposed trial date, the more likely the court will accept the stipulation.
Unless the discovery deadline had already passed, when new dates are issued for pending cases, all trial-related deadlines and dates will be continued to track the new trial date. Judge Brazile anticipated that parties will be given sufficient time to conduct discovery and bring MSJs, if necessary.
The court expects that getting jurors to show up will be very difficult. Courtroom configurations may change to accommodate social distancing, but it is presently unclear how.
Judge Brazile presently believes it is unlikely that civil jury trials will begin earlier than late August or September.