Effective August 10,2020 audio and video appearances became available in Family Law and Criminal Law courtrooms. This expands the remote appearance options the Court already has deployed this summer for Civil, Probate, Delinquency, Appellate and Dependency matters, according to Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile.
According to Brazile, “The Court has prioritized and expedited remote appearance options throughout the nation’s largest trial court system to achieve social distancing and to provide safe, convenient alternatives to in-person court appearances during the COVID-19 pandemic. By next month, Webex and LACourtConnect (LACC), the Court-developed remote appearance solution, will be available in all litigation types throughout the Court.”
Effective as of Monday, August 10, 2020: • Audio and video appearances will be expanded to all 250 Criminal courtrooms for hearings using Webex. Since April, audio and video appearances have been an option in 32 courtrooms across the county for arrestees in custody who consent to appear remotely for arraignment, and remote appearances for preliminary hearings also have been available since April. Remote hearings are held at the discretion of the judge and with the defendant’s consent (if it’s a criminal trial).
Also, effective as of August 10, 2020, LACourtConnect launched remote hearings in courtrooms handling Small Claims, Unlawful Detainers and Collections cases.
Effective as of August 17, 2020, LACourtConnect was expanded for scheduling remote appearances for Family Law matters on calendar.
Enforcement of social distancing and reducing foot traffic is critical during this pandemic. So, the Court has placed drop boxes outside courthouses for filings. It has also “…established a virtual Clerk’s Office; required prescheduled appointments to access in-person Clerk’s Office services; enhanced virtual services to self-help litigants; and prioritized remote appearance solutions. Under way at the pandemic’s onset, the Court accelerated an 18-month deployment schedule for LACC to three months,” according to the Court’s website.
The Court is also working on virtual options for safe jury selection and jury service for Criminal trials, that are expected to begin in September, followed by Civil trials in 2021.
According to Presiding Judge Brazile, “The Court has mandated stringent measures for enhanced cleaning, facial coverings and social distancing as we gradually resume hearings after the 3-month closure when we handled only statutorily mandated, emergency and time-sensitive matters. As we balance due process rights, social distancing and public health considerations in the midst of a pandemic, the safety and well-being of jurors, staff, judicial officers, justice partners, attorneys and court users remains our priority.”
Part of the Court’s Here For You | Safe For You plan, the court-wide expansion of audio and video courtroom appearances offers a safe and convenient alternative to in-person appearances. Information on Here For You | Safe For You can be found at this website http://www.lacourt.org/newsmedia/ui/HfySfy.aspx and on the Los Angeles County Court’s Twitter page @LASuperiorCourt.