California Lawyers Association

Letter to California State Legislature Regarding Remote Civil Proceedings

June 16, 2021

The Honorable Anthony Rendon
Speaker
California State Assembly
State Capitol, Room 219
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Toni Atkins
President Pro Tempore
California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Nancy Skinner
Chair, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review
California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 2082
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Phil Ting
Chair, Committee on Budget
California State Assembly
State Capitol, Room 6026
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable María Elena Durazo
Chair, Budget Subcommittee No. 5
California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 2032
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Cristina Garcia
Chair, Budget Subcommittee No. 5
California State Assembly
State Capitol, Room 2013
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re:      Remote Civil Proceedings

View PDF version here

Dear Leaders of the California State Legislature:

We are writing on behalf of the California Lawyers Association (CLA) in support of legislation that would ensure that remote civil proceedings can continue beyond the pandemic. If the Legislature does not act, when the Governor lifts the State of Emergency regarding the pandemic, the temporary authorization for remote proceedings in the courts will quickly expire. We therefore support the intent of the budget proposal and statutory authorization for continued availability of remote civil proceedings.

We have received ongoing reports from our members about their experience with remote proceedings during the pandemic. CLA and the California Judges Association created a Joint Taskforce on Remote Proceedings to explore the issues and potential long-term solutions, even before any legislation had been introduced. Over the past several months, we have also had discussions with a variety of interested stakeholders concerning these issues. We recognize that different approaches have been proposed, and that some of the statutory details will have a significant impact, but we are committed to engaging in ongoing discussions aimed at fair, just, and workable solutions.

We have seen the tremendous benefit of remote proceedings, including decreased costs to the litigants and increased access to justice. Among other things, remote access opens up opportunities for working parents and caregivers to participate in proceedings and avoids travel costs and significant time commitments that are associated with in-person court appearances. At the same time, we recognize that any solution needs to be carefully crafted so parties and the court retain the ability to pursue in-person proceedings, including witness testimony, and rights are protected.

Although remote proceedings may not be appropriate in all situations, we believe they are a critical option that should be retained. Completely removing the ability to conduct remote proceedings will not serve to advance the administration of justice.

For all of these reasons, we support the intent of the budget proposal and strongly encourage ongoing discussions with the interested stakeholders.

We appreciate your consideration of our comments.

Sincerely,

Ona Alston Dosunmu
C.E.O. & Executive Director

Emilio Varanini
President

cc: Christopher Francis, Principal Consultant, Senate Budget Sub 5
Jennifer Kim, Consultant, Assembly Budget Sub 5
Jessica Devencenzi, Deputy Legislative Secretary, Office of Governor Newsom
Eric Dang, Office of the Senate President pro Tempore Atkins
Alf Brandt, General Counsel, Assembly Speaker Rendon
Margie Estrada, Chief Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee
Alison Merrilees, Chief Counsel, Assembly Judiciary Committee

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