Wednesday, May 2, 2007
March, Protest Have Limited Effect on Court Operations—Officials
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Yesterday’s immigrant rights protest around City Hall did not significantly hamper the Los Angeles Superior Court’s operations, court officials said.
Criminal Courts Supervising Judge Steven R. Van Sicklen, who oversees the site that was closest to the heart of the protest, attributed the smooth outcome to good planning.
Most of the trials were adjourned for the day at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, he explained.
“We didn’t bring jurors in, and managed to avoid setting any last-day trials or preliminary hearings,” he said.
With respect to last-day arraignments which still went forward, he added, those involved “all made it into court” despite the partial closure of Spring Street.
The impact of road closures was absorbed by arranging for court employees to have access to the court’s underground parking.
Also, Van Sicklen said, employees whose services were not required, due to the scaling down of operations, were allowed to take the day off.
Presiding Judge J. Stephen Czuleger remarked that in bracing for possible traffic problems, he, Van Sicklen and Civil Courts Supervising Judge Lee S. Edmon were primarily concerned with how jurors might be affected by tie-ups in public transit due to the scheduled rally.
As a result, he said, bench officers had been asked to continue trials originally scheduled for yesterday, if possible, and not many jurors were called in.
The court also notified attorneys in advance that although it would remain fully open for business, counsel should consider scheduling filing their briefs before or after yesterday’s date, Czuleger added.
The presiding judge said Stanley Mosk Courthouse remained “pretty quiet” throughout the day.
Closures ‘Not Unusual’
Elias Thomas, who owns Elias Snack Bar inside the court building, agreed, saying there were apparently “no employees and no jury” and that his business’ normal volume was cut by at least half.
But court spokesperson Allan Parachini clarified that the court’s services remained uninterrupted, and that family law courts in particular carried on as usual.
Czuleger noted that although the court took precautionary measures, the protest “appear[ed] to be a non-event” as far as courthouse access was concerned.
Yesterday’s rally at City Hall, the culmination of the protest, drew a reported 25,000 people, in sharp contrast to the estimated 650,000 who showed up last year.
“We have street closures for Music Center events, Cathedral [of our Lady of the Angels] events. This is not an unusual occurrence.”
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company