County courthouses suspends all trials through April 16

Court gavel
Signal File Photo.

In a statement released Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court officials announced that all civil and criminal trials are suspended through April 16.

Citing the need to adhere to the most recent government directives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile said the move would temporarily end all non-essential operations and grant extensions to clients, attorneys and judges.

“The Superior Court of Los Angeles County is committed to providing equal access to justice through the fair, timely and efficient resolution of all cases,” said Brazile in the statement. “However, it is imperative that we continue aligning our court with the most recent directives and guidelines issued by our national, state and local public health officials.”

The Los Angeles Superior Court is set to reopen on Friday for the purpose of hearing or handling essential or emergency matters in criminal, civil, probate, family law and dependency/juvenile cases, the release stated.

Jurors should not report and no new jurors will be summoned for jury service for 30 days, according to the release.

The order also allows Brazile to authorize extensions of time for criminal arraignments, preliminary hearings and trials, according to the release. It allows Brazile to extend the filing and hearing deadlines in civil, small claims, unlawful detainer and dependency cases.

The statement said there will be additional news coming out over the next few days as the courts determined how to best scale back their judicial and court resources.

In addition to closing the courts, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the Los Angeles County penal system has been attempting to minimize the impact of the custody population.

The inmate population over the last few weeks has gone from a total of 17,076 to, as of Monday, 16,459, or 617 fewer people, Villanueva said.

“We’ve implemented some of my authority under the penal code to reduce the population of our jails through early release, those who have less than 30 days left under sentence,” said Villanueva. “At the entry level, also now, we’re directing all our local agencies to cite and release what they can.”

Villanueva said there are also plans for situations in which a felony suspect with a violent crime shows symptoms and needs to be arrested.

As of Monday morning, Villanueva said, there are zero confirmed cases of the virus in custody, nine inmates are in isolation at the Correctional Treatment Center, 21 in quarantine at Men’s Central Jail and five at Twin Towers Correctional Facility.

“We’ve also reduced the average number of arrests now,” said Villanueva. “That’s shrunk over the weekend to about 60 a day.”

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