LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues to require social distancing measures, Los Angeles County Superior Court will further delay most trial dates into the fall.
Some criminal trials that do not require a jury may be able to start as early as September, but civil jury trials will be postponed into January under a new order issued by Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile.
All non-jury trials scheduled from Monday to Sept. 8, other than small claims and traffic trials and any case statutorily required to proceed, are continued until further notice. Other non-jury trials in preference cases may start on or after Oct. 5, as long as they are in compliance with social distancing profiles.
Brazile’s order is seeking to “balance the need to increase the court’s workload while keeping courthouses safe by reducing in-person appearances as COVID-19 rates of infections continue to increase in Los Angeles County.”
The court has managed to implement remote courtroom appearances via Webex. But remote courtroom appearances are not possible in all cases for legal and ethical reasons, and cannot accommodate jurors.
“Courthouses are not designed to facilitate social distancing given their fixed configuration,” Brazile said in a statement.
Most dependency proceedings have been held remotely since June 22, but the number of cases that have been heard were limited due to social distancing mandates. The new order prioritizes those cases so that they can be heard as quickly as possible.
Family law evidentiary proceedings, other than restraining order hearings, that can be completed within two court days can go forward. Otherwise, such proceedings cannot commence before Nov. 20, except as authorized by the supervising judge.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)