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| Wednesday, Apr 8, 2020
Judicial Council Chair Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye ran the call from the council's office in Sacramento on April 6, 2020. Courtesy photo.
Judicial Council Chair Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye ran the call from the council's office in Sacramento on April 6, 2020. Courtesy photo.

 

The California Judicial Council approved 11 temporary emergency rules (see bottom of page) at its virtual meeting Tuesday, including setting bail statewide at $0 for misdemeanors and lower-level felonies to “safely reduce jail populations” and staying eviction and foreclosure proceedings to protect Californians from losing their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey applauded the rising calling for zero bail for most misdemeanor offenses.

This was the second emergency Judicial Council meeting of court and branch leaders from around the state to consider further measures to ensure California courts—which remain open as “essential services” under Gov. Newsom’s stay-home executive order—can meet stringent health directives while also providing due process and access to justice.

“We are at this point truly with no guidance in history, law, or precedent,” said Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the council. “And to say that there is no playbook is a gross understatement of the situation. In developing these rules, we listened to suggestions from our justice system partners, the public, and the courts, and we greatly appreciate all of the input. Working with our court stakeholders, I’m confident we can preserve the rule of law and protect the rights of victims, the accused, litigants, families and children, and all who seek justice. It’s truly a team effort.”

The council received and considered more than 100 written comments on the new rules from judges, public defenders, district attorneys, law enforcement, legal aid and advocacy groups, unions, attorneys, court reporters, interpreters, and other justice system partners.

Among the actions the council approved, to go into effect immediately:

* Suspend the entry of defaults in eviction cases;

* Suspend judicial foreclosures;

* Allow courts to require judicial proceedings and court operations be conducted remotely, with the defendant’s consent in criminal proceedings;
Adopt a statewide emergency bail schedule that sets bail at $0 for most misdemeanor and lower-level felony offenses;

* Allow defendants to appear via counsel or remote technologies for pretrial criminal hearings;

* Prioritize hearings and orders in juvenile justice proceedings and set a structure for remote hearings and continuances

* Extend the timeframes for specified temporary restraining orders;

* Extend the statutes of limitations governing civil actions; and

* Allow electronic depositions in civil cases.

The council previously approved a number of temporary measures at its first emergency meeting March 28 to give courts the flexibility to continue to provide essential services to the public while protecting health and safety during the pandemic.

Lacey Applauds Zero-Bail Order
“I applaud the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council for adopting a statewide zero bail for people charged with most misdemeanors and low-level felonies,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Lacey said in a statement.

“In Los Angeles County, we implemented a zero-bail measure last week that allows us to further reduce the number of people in county jails and courthouses,” Lacey said. “I appreciate the collaboration among criminal justice leaders in Los Angeles County that has resulted in the rapid deployment of new and innovative approaches as we work to try to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

 

 

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