LOS ANGELES — After months of closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, state courts in Los Angeles County were closed again Monday following a weekend of protests, looting and escalating police violence.
L.A. Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile ordered all courthouses to shut their doors on Monday.
“Out of an abundance of caution, I am taking the extraordinary step of closing our courthouses” to protect the safety of the public, judicial officers and court employees,” Brazile said in a statement.
“This is not a decision I make lightly. But public safety is always our paramount concern,” Brazile said.
Brazile placed L.A. Superior Court’s 38 courthouses on a modified schedule last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in-person hearings were set to resume June 22.
Over the weekend, the California National Guard was deployed to L.A. at the request of Mayor Eric Garcetti and Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency in L.A. County.
For five days L.A. County has been rocked by protests across multiple neighborhoods and cities that have spiraled into looting. For the first time since the 1992 Rodney King riots, the National Guard patrolled the city of L.A.
Cities across the county have instituted curfews and the LAPD said hundreds of protesters were arrested over the weekend on charges of burglary, looting, vandalism, failure to disperse and others, along with curfew violations.
Faith leaders in L.A. will march to LAPD headquarters in downtown on Tuesday in a sign of protest during a virtual police commissioners’ special meeting.
San Diego County and Sacramento County superior courts will also be closed Monday due to the civil unrest and because sheriff’s department personnel are expected to be working throughout the evening and needed elsewhere. Santa Clara County courts will be closed after the city of San Jose issued a proclamation of local emergency, Presiding Judge Deborah A. Ryan announced.
San Bernardino, Riverside, San Francisco and Orange counties were set to resume modified court operations on Monday.
Sacramento courts are expected to reopen on Tuesday, but the governor’s office issued an advisory for all government offices downtown to be closed due to the protests.
Courts across California are expected to resume court operations this month with modified guidelines that include physical distancing, face masks worn by all staff and visitors, increased phone services and some virtual hearings.
California instituted a stay-at-home order March 19 due to the pandemic and courts across the state followed with closures soon after.