Effective immediately, public access to courthouses is now restricted to authorized persons only. Measures to enforce social distancing in courthouse hallways and courtrooms will be strictly enforced. These changes to court procedures are because of the exponential increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County, Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile announced today.
Public access to courthouses is “…limited at all times to judicial officers, court employees, co-lessees, Judicial Council staff, vendors, jurors, mediators, authorized persons (including news media representatives and news reporters), attorneys, litigants and witnesses with matters on calendar, and individuals with confirmed appointments.”
Despite earlier previous mandatory General Orders that require the use of face masks and social distancing, some attorneys, litigants, and others routinely remove their masks or wear their them improperly, and/or fail to observe social distancing while in courthouses. These orders were put into effect to reduce the spread of COVID 19 infections.
Also, in the interest of enforcing social distancing and to reduce the number of people in courthouses, effective Monday, November 30, 2020, “…members of the public, not otherwise referenced above, who wish to attend a court proceeding may do so upon advance request and at the discretion of the judicial officer presiding over the matter. Instructions on how to make such a request are available on the Court’s website at the Here for You | Safe for You page. All persons attending remotely must comply with applicable California Rules of Court, including Rule 1.150. There shall be no recording by anyone of the court proceeding, hearing or trial.”
According to Presiding Judge Brazile, “My top priority is to assure that we take whatever steps necessary to protect the safety and well-being of our justice partners, court users, staff, judicial officers, and others who must work in courthouses. Despite a General Order requiring the use of face masks and social distancing mandates, attorneys, litigants and others routinely remove their masks and fail to observe social distancing while in our courthouses. The Court finds that these new controls are necessary to maintain access to justice safely while balancing the right of public access to proceedings, freedom of the press and public health considerations during a pandemic.”
Regarding concerns about lack of social distancing in some courthouse hallways and public areas, “…all attorneys, litigants, witnesses and authorized persons are prohibited from gathering with or speaking to anyone outside their household in courthouse hallways or public areas of the Court unless they can do so at least six feet apart from each other and while wearing masks over their nose and mouth. To enforce social distancing, each court department shall schedule only the number of matters during each session as it can accommodate consistent with social distancing requirements in courtrooms and outside hallways of the courthouse.”
Lastly, eating in the courtrooms and hallways by the public is prohibited at all times.