Navigating Coronavirus Laws
Timeline of COVID-19 Court Changes
March 4 – Gavin Newsom declares state of emergency in CA.
March 13 – Donald Trump declares national emergency.
March 16 – CA counties, including LA, began issuing shelter in place or stay at home orders.
March 19 – Gavin Newsom issues statewide executive order requiring everyone to stay at home, subject to limited exemptions including courts.
March 20 – Chief Justice of CA issued advisory recommending steps superior courts could take to mitigate the effect of reduced staffing and court closures and to protect the health of judges, court staff, and court users.
March 23 – Chief Justice issued an order requiring superior courts to suspend jury trials for 60 days, unless they were able to conduct such a trial at an earlier date, upon a finding of good cause shown or through the use of remote technology. That order also extended holding last day trials in criminal and civil proceedings; and authorized courts to adopt any proposed local rules or rule amendment intended to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to take effect immediately, without advance circulation for public comment.
March 27 – Gavin Newsom issues executive order allowing Chief Justice to authorize, via emergency order or statewide rule, any court to take any action that is necessary to maintain the safe and orderly operation of the courts.
March 28 – Judicial Council meets in emergency session and unanimously authorizes and supports Chief Justice issuing statewide emergency orders to extend statutory deadlines for preliminary hearings, arraignments, and last day trials in both criminal and civil proceedings.
March 30 – Chief Justice issues order that (a) extends the time period provided in Penal Code 859b for the holding of a preliminary examination and the defendant’s right to release from 10 court days to not more than 30 court days; (b) extends the time period provided in Penal Code 825 within which a defendant charged with a felony offense must be taken before a magistrate from 48 hours to not more than seven days; (c) extends the time period provided in Penal Code 1382 for the holding of a criminal trial by no more than 60 days from the last date on which the statutory deadline otherwise would have expired; and (d) extends the time periods provided in Code of Civil Procedure 583.3 10 and 583.320 to bring an action to trial by no more than 60 days from the last date on which the statutory deadline otherwise would have expired. These time extensions were in addition to any relief provided pursuant to a court-specific emergency order issued under a subdivision of Government Code 68115 related to another time extension or form of relief.
April 6 – Judicial Council issues additional Emergency Rules 1 through 11, regarding a number of different subjects and effective immediately.
April 14 – LA Superior Court Presiding Judge issues administrative order that all courtrooms will be closed through May 12 other than for certain listed “time-sensitive, essential functions” (including restraining orders, ex parte hearings [for which all parties can appear telephonically], probate emergency petitions, search warrants, arraignments, criminal preliminary hearings, bail hearings, sentencing hearings, judicial commitments for dangerous persons based on mental health conditions, and emergency writs challenging COVID-19 emergency measures). All matters other than the listed proceedings will be continued by the Court, which will provide notice to the parties of the new dates. All civil trials are continued to after June 22. Access to all essential court proceedings remains limited to parties, attorneys, witnesses, and news reporters.