At an emergency meeting held on March 28, 2020, the Judicial Council unanimously approved a number of measures to assist the courts. The Judicial Council’s actions follow the Governor’s emergency order empowering the Judicial Council and Chief Justice to take necessary temporary action to enable the courts to conduct business and continue to operate while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures, which extend 90 days after the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted, include the following:
- Extend the 10 court day period for holding a preliminary hearing and the defendant’s right of release to 30 court days;
- Extend the time period in which a defendant charged with a felony offense shall be taken before a judicial officer from 48 hours to not more than 7 days;
- Extend the time period for holding a criminal trial by more than 30 days; and
- Extend the time period to bring an action to trial by more than 30 days.
In addition to temporarily extending statutory deadlines, the Judicial Council also directed the superior courts to:
- Make use of technology, when possible, to conduct judicial proceedings and court operations remotely. This includes the use of video, audio, and telephone for remote appearances, reporting, and interpreting in judicial proceedings, the electronic exchange and authentication of documents in evidence, and the use of e-filing and e-service; and
- In criminal and juvenile proceedings, including arraignments and preliminary hearings, prioritize use of technology to ensure defendants are not held in custody, and children are not held in custody or removed from the custody of their parents or guardians, without timely due process of law or in violation of constitutional rights.
An audio link to the Judicial Council meeting is accessible here.