What are a some of the impacts COVID-19 has had on California Courts?
We don’t have to tell you that the global health crisis has impacted every industry across the globe in one way or another. Our judicial system in particular has been forced to take a good long look at itself and address some key issues that have long plagued it. Below we examine 3 unique impacts COVID-19 has had on California Courts.
I. Jury Trials
For the most part, jury trials are not happening anywhere right now in Southern California. There are “a few” that have gone forward in each court but they are limited to special cases where the client is in custody and there has been no waiver or speedy trial. The few jury trials that have gone forward during the pandemic are taking much longer than usual with the need for social distancing of jurors, witnesses, court staff, and litigants. A tremendous backlog of cases is piling up that threatens to overwhelm the system.
II. Court Dates
Court dates for traffic matters, misdemeanors and even felonies are often being rescheduled unilaterally by the court without any input from the defense or the prosecution. Many matters are proceeding through the use of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex and telephone. While these methods of conducting court proceedings are necessary to keep the court functioning during a pandemic, they also create new challenges. Clients have always felt “lost in the system” and that feeling is amplified with limited access to courts for friends and family, court appearances and attorney consults by video and other COVID-19 restrictions.
III. Seeing a Judge
For 20 years I have always reminded my clients that whenever you go into court on a criminal matter, large or small, you should have an experienced lawyer by your side. You wouldn’t make it out of the jungle alive without a tour guide, so don’t go into the courthouse without a lawyer. But now the times have changed. It’s not about getting out of the courthouse, it’s about getting IN! The severely restricted access to our court system caused by COVID-19 has made the lawyer’s job less a matter of getting out of court, and more a matter of finding a way to get your case in front of a Judge so that you can resolve your matter, clear a warrant or license hold, argue for release on bail, etc.
IV. We Can Help
Getting things done in today’s legal environment in Southern California is more difficult than ever, especially for those without access to good legal counsel. If you have any questions about a case you or a family member or friend may be facing, please give us a call so we can talk about a solution. Call 800-797-8406 or CLICK HERE to schedule your free consultation.