When the year 2020 started it was like any other year. The court’s were bustling. Cases were being filed and heard. Then March 2020 COVID19 changed the world and the courts. Los Angeles Superior Court has gone through numerous changes since March 2020. It has only August 2020, a mere five months later but things are drastically different.
At first, the courts’ closed, hearing only emergency matters. Still even now mainly only emergency matters are being heard but still there are some non-emergency matters moving forward. All in person civil trials have been suspended through the end of the year. Criminal jury trials have been postponed. The Judicial Council has issued emergency rules including rules 1 and 2 which affect if summons can be issued for unlawful detainers, if default judgments can be entered, and more. Then there is emergency rule 12 which permits counsels to compel opposing counsels to receive service via electronic means. With all of these changes what is like to currently go to court in Los Angeles County.
On August 7, 2020, Ms. Rodriguez, with Rodriguez Law Group, Inc. attended an in person court hearing at the Van Nuys courthouse. It was an ex parte motion to stay a default judgment (entered pre-pandemic that the sheriff was threatening to use for a lock out on Monday, August 10, 2020) pending the outcome of a motion to set aside the notice to vacate, writ of possession, default judgment, and entry of default judgment. While this experience may differ from a place like Stanley Mosk that hears more cases it is a guide as for what to expect. Prior to going Ms. Rodriguez prepared herself by making sure she had several masks with her, hand sanitizer, gloves, and a throw away purse. She also intentionally did not bring in with her what she normally would (including her laptop, laptop bag, or anything she didn’t absolutely need). She made sure that she had as little with her to get through security as possible.
Upon arrival there were signs on the ground indicating where everyone in line should stand while waiting to get through security. Social distancing was definitely being practiced. This was an afternoon hearing at 1:30pm and upon arrival Ms. Rodriguez found the courthouse to have limited personnel, attorneys, and parties. There was only approximately ten to twenty people total seen between the time Ms. Rodriguez entered the courthouse and left. There were few people in the elevators and Ms. Rodriguez was able to take the elevator alone. Upon arriving at the courtroom the doors were locked. Counsels remained outside. There were four counsel for a calendar of about 8 matters. Each attorney sat/stood at least six (6) feet apart and were practicing social distancing.
A little after 1:30pm the courtroom clerk came out to the hallway where a desk had been set up and checked in each attorney one by one while everyone practiced social distancing. After the clerk checked everyone she advised each case would be called one by one so that there were as few people in the courtroom as possible. The deputy came out and called in each case one by one, counsels went in one by one Defense counsel first then Plaintiffs counsel then the deputy. Everyone practiced social distancing. Each courtroom staff was behind glass when they sat at their desk/station, the deputy, the clerk, and the additional courtroom staff clerk. The judge was not wearing a mask. Both counsels were wearing masks. After the hearing was concluded each counsel was given an alcohol wipe and instructed to wipe down the desk that they were sitting at. There were no other people in the courtroom. I discarded my gloves and alcohol wipes in the courtroom trash after wiping down the desk I had sat at while the hearing was being conducted.
I exited the courtroom not touching any doors following behind Plaintiffs counsel. I did not touch the elevator button(s) or door(s). I shared the elevator with Plaintiffs counsel only. I then exited the building and discarded the purse I had used to carry in my belongings. I also used the hand sanitizer I brought with me to clean my hands. This concluded my experience with the Los Angeles Superior Court Van Nuys post COVID19 as of August 9, 2020.
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***Disclaimer: This is not legal advice but general educational material. This does not create an attorney & client relationship. You should consult an attorney in your locale.
About Rodriguez Law Group, Inc.
Rodriguez Law Group, Inc. is a local boutique, San Gabriel, CA law firm with decades of experience helping clients remedy past wrong doings against individuals and corporate entities. Our law firm offers aggressive, yet affordable legal counsel to clients throughout Southern California, including San Gabriel, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Westlake, Santa Barbara, and their surrounding areas.
If you are facing foreclosure, criminal charges, personal injury, bankruptcy, or a civil despute, it is essential to hire a powerful attorney to be your voice in the courtroom or at the negotiating table. Experience matters.