Current Status of Selected California State Court Operations due to COVID-19

Current Status of Selected California State Court Operations due to COVID-19

By: D. Keith Dunnagan, Esq.

August 18, 2020

One would hope the summer heat might ease months of Covid-19 related Court closures. Unfortunately, full court operations are likely far off and we should be prepared for continuing Court delays. One small glimmer of hope is the California Judicial Council voted to lift the ban on unlawful detainer actions as of midnight September 1, 2020, we will provide more on this issue in the coming days. The Judicial Council did however leave the final decision when to allow unlawful detainer filings to the individual counties. Here is a run-down of several of the counties in our area and their respective operations and limitations.

In Sacramento County most Court operations are on hold but some services are provided. In the Civil Division civil filings are accepted by US mail or drop box. Civil proceedings that are ongoing are complex civil case management hearings, writs of mandate, civil law and motion, Presiding Judge law and motion, some trial setting, voluntary settlement conferences, as well civil harassment restraining orders have commenced via Zoom.

Placer County Superior Court announced on July 28 that no jury trials will be held between Aug. 3 and Aug. 28. However, when the Court was recently contacted we were informed that no civil trials will be conducted for the foreseeable future. Like Sacramento, Placer allows law and motion proceedings and settlement conferences via Zoom.

The El Dorado County Superior Court vacated all civil trials through the entire 2020 calendar because it is anticipated that there will be a large volume of criminal trials which will have statutory priority. Motions tied to trial dates will be reset. The court has started hearing law and motion matters once per week via Zoom.

Amador County Superior Court resumed all calendars, remotely where possible, on June 1. This includes jury trials. However, it does not include unlawful detainers. Face coverings are required in the court.

Calaveras County Superior Court is open but only to those who are wearing face coverings. In person filings are permitted. But, to minimize the number of people in the clerk’s lobby area, people must pull a number from a kiosk and wait for their turn. Parties are encouraged to use online services. While in the courthouse, visitors are required to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing.

Contra Costa County Superior Court adopted amended civil emergency rules laying out procedures for remote proceedings, hearings and filings. Unless otherwise stated in these Rules, or otherwise ordered by the assigned judge, all hearings will be conducted by Court Call until further notice.

San Joaquin County Superior Court:  The court announced a restoration of services on July 6. Courthouse access will be limited, and entrants will have their temperatures taken. Face coverings are required. The Lodi branch will remain closed while one department in the Manteca courthouse will be open. Jurors are being summoned but no jury trials are being conducted except selected criminal proceedings.

Solano County Superior Court: The court reinstated limited proceedings by appointment only. In person hearings are limited with most being ordered to be conducted by Zoom and Court Call.

The court is posting notices of continued hearings on its website.

Tehama County Superior Court: The court limited in-person appearances and using telephone and video alternatives through July 2. The chief justice issued a third emergency order for the court on May 1. Presiding Judge Matthew McGlynn signed a general order for court operations on April 3.

Yolo County Superior Court: The court is open with reduced calendars for essential functions. Almost all appearances are being handled presumptively by video. Criminal jury trials are expected to resume in July. Some jurors are being asked to report by Zoom. Visitors are required to wear face coverings.

California Courts of Appeal: In July, the Third District Court of in Sacramento now holds all oral arguments by video conference. The public can watch the proceedings online.

The California Supreme Court: The court on March 16 suspended in-person oral arguments until ”deemed prudent to resume normal measures.” Like all of the courts appearances must be by video or teleconference. All oral argument sessions will be held from their location the San Francisco location.

The information presented in this Article is not to be taken as legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. If you are facing a legal issue of any kind, get competent legal advice in your State immediately so that you can determine your best options

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