Southern California State Courts Take Piecemeal Approach to Reopen
All California state courts have been closed to the public since mid-March to combat COVID-19 and adhere to physical distancing. True emergency matters are being handled but the courts have largely been closed for civil matters. Governor Newsom’s plan to gradually reopen the economy and lift stay-at-home orders means state courts will each judge how and when to reopen to the public and resume typical operations. All courts encourage remote telephonic and video appearances whenever possible.
However, when the courts reopen to the public, most civil cases will suffer significant delays because of the constitutional requirement to prioritize criminal matters and other matters entitled to priority (e.g., evictions).
Orange County Superior Courts extended their closure to May 22, 2020, designating all days as Court holidays and extending prior orders. The order exempted time-sensitive, essential matters.
Specifically addressing civil cases, Presiding Judge Nakamura ordered unlawful detainer (eviction) hearings to be set after June 15, 2020, with no change to hearings set after July 1.
All general civil trials in progress before the closure are vacated; hearings will be rescheduled approximately 13 weeks away and trials will be set between 19-21 months from the filing date. Additionally, all trial setting hearings will be vacated with all cases to be tried within 2 years of the initial filing date (previous target was 1 year).
Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County Superior Courts extended their closure to May 12, 2020, except time-sensitive essential matters. All days are considered court holidays. All civil hearings and trials set during the closure will be continued to a date after June 22, 2020.
Click here to read the full order.
Riverside County Superior Courts are open to process emergency essential matters, but most locations are closed through May 15. All civil cases are being continued and all trial dates are vacated. Notice of new hearing dates will be mailed to the parties.
The complete order can be read here.
San Bernardino County Superior Courts are open at limited locations to process emergency matters, described here. The court is planning to reopen on May 28. Updated hearing information is accessible through the court’s website and notices were sent to the parties directly. Litigants and their counsel are encouraged to use the online portal to verify scheduled dates.
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