Social Distancing Rules Rescinded in All LA Courtrooms

Via a June 24, 2021 General Order, effective on Monday, June 28, 2021, all Los Angeles County courthouses became open without any public social distancing restrictions, because the requirement for advance appointments and online requests for in-person courtroom seating was eliminated.

“Expanding access to justice safely remains the Court’s top priority,” Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor said. “During the pandemic, the Court adopted alternative services and solutions to offer safe access to justice. Today, I am pleased to announce the Court is aligning with, and responsibly following, federal, state and county public health and Cal/OSHA workplace guidance that eliminates social distancing in public spaces. Public health guidance also dictates safety measures, including mask-wearing, to protect workers and the public from spread of the virus and those persons not yet vaccinated. This is a huge step forward in our rise from the pandemic.”

The General Order, however, continues to encourage the public seeking services from Self-Help Centers, the Clerk’s Office and/or court support services to continue scheduling advance appointments to reduce lines.

According to Presiding Judge Taylor, “The silver lining to our pandemic challenges has been the development of our remote access tools through LACourtConnect.  This positive access feature will remain a staple in our Court into the future, offering less expensive and convenient alternatives to in-person appearances.”

The General Order (2021-GEN-023-00) is available online at www.lacourt.org

Here are the requirements and important updates from the Order as posted from Presiding Judge Taylor’s June 24, 2021 News Release:

“• All persons, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face mask over both the nose and mouth while in public areas of the courthouse, including courtrooms. Children under the age of two (2) are exempt from the Order. Court employees must wear face masks that meet the Cal/OSHA requirements.

• Individuals with a physical or mental health impairment or disability who seek an exemption from the face mask requirement must contact the ADA liaison at the courthouse prior to their appearance to request a reasonable accommodation pursuant the Americans with Disabilities Act or Rule 1.100 of the California Rules of Court. A list of ADA liaisons is available at www.lacourt.org/ada/adahome.aspx.

• Individuals who decline or refuse to wear a face mask without a court order exempting them from the mask requirement will be denied entry to the courthouse and/or courtroom.

• Individuals who remove their face masks after entering the courthouse or courtroom will be reminded to wear them. If they refuse, they may be denied services, may have their legal matters rescheduled, and/or will be asked to leave the courthouse or courtroom immediately. Persons who refuse to leave voluntarily will be escorted out of the courthouse and/or courtroom by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department personnel.

• No advance permission will be required for in-person courtroom seating for hearings on or after June 28, 2021.

• Drop boxes will remain outside courthouses as a filing option.

• While snack bars and cafeterias will reopen, over the next few weeks, eating or drinking is prohibited in courthouse hallways.

• Effective June 28, the Court will no longer offer the Remote Audio Attendance Program (RAAP) to listen remotely to courtroom proceedings. The Court implemented this temporary program during the pandemic recognizing there may be abuses of the Court’s orders prohibiting recording, filming, and distribution of proceedings. Widespread breaches by the public in a recent court proceeding highlighted the need to return to in-person, open courtroom proceedings, which is a welcome development.”

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