San Diego County Courts to Open After Memorial Day (4/26/20)
In response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the San Diego County Courts have been shuttered since March 13th, 2020. The California Supreme Court adopted several Emergency Rules to handle the shutdown, effectively designating the over eight-week shutdown as “holidays” to avoid the Constitutional guarantees of speedy trials. Local Jail populations have been reduced, and the State has adopted “Zero Bail” policy for most misdemeanor and non-serious, non-violent felony arrests.
So when will we return to the “New Normal”?
Presiding San Diego Judge Laura Alksne has coordinated with the DA, PD, Private Defense Bar and the Clerk's office to begin conducting telephonic and on-line hearings, which have already begun in all courts, currently only for in-custody felony and misdemeanor matters. The court now plans to “open” the day after Memorial Day, May 26th. I used quotes around the word “open” because court operations will be far different from “business as usual” (yes, again with the quotes).
San Diego courts have offered limited services throughout the closure, issuing Domestic Violence TRO's (yet conducting no hearings on those orders) and very limited in-custody felony matters utilizing Microsoft Teams, an awkward version of the more popular and slick “Zoom” videoconferencing service.
After a very enlightening conference with the North County Judges today (5/13/20), the following points were made:
The health of the public, court staff and attorneys is the paramount focus, and social distancing and masks will be required.
All people entering the courthouse will have their temperatures taken, if above 100 degrees, they will be denied entry.
The court is still focusing on in-custody matters, and will likely not be hearing out of custody matters for a while, especially the first week of re-opening. The judges confirmed that if you have an out-of-custody hearing scheduled the week of May 26th, you should NOT go to court, as it will not be on calendar.
Court Collections and the Substance Abuse Assessment Unit (SAAU) are closed and will not be open, at least until June, 2020.
Any outstanding fines, fees, or Public Work Service (PWS) will be delayed and no additional penalties will be imposed for failure to provide proof while the courts are closed.
There will be no jury trials for the foreseeable future; if you received a jury summons since closure, you have been deemed to have satisfied your commitment for a year.
The judges are clearly frustrated with the backlog that is building from the closure, and are indicating they are trying to be flexible and work with everyone.
Call my office if you have additional questions, 760 643 4025 Bailey Criminal Defense