Monday, April 1, 2013
Beckloff Tells What to Expect With Probate Cases Shifted Downtown
Circulating within the probate community are recitations of a meeting Wednesday at which Los Angeles Superior Court Supervising Probate Judge Mitchell Beckloff fielded questions on what operations will be like with all probate cases, other than those in Lancaster, being handled downtown as of June 10.
About 60 persons attended the noon get-together at the Pomona Courthouse.
Veteran probate practitioner Robert L. Kern, a former president of the Eastern Bar Association, relates in an e-mail:
The meeting provided some clairification and new information, such as that the “have gavel will travel” is expected to permit hearings for minors and conservatees in the district courts, not only for “defaults” but for all matters (including discussion by the court with parties as to objections, complaints, etc.) up to—but not including trials—which will be held in Los Angeles….
The question of what happens to the pleadings which will be filed after April 8, 2013, has been answered. There will be no more paper files maintained. The pleadings will be scanned, then stored by date, which presents interesting questions. Personally, I have come across files where documents have been filed (and a copy returned with a confirming “original filed” stamp) which is not shown in either the scanned or paper file at the court (Central District). And, there are instances where documents are in the wrong files. Correcting a paper file by providing a copy or moving the document to the appropriate place has not been too difficult. I am advised that “amending” the scanned files cannot be done in a fashion to put the document in the proper place….
Related to the files is the question of “fax” filing. Judge Beckloff appears to believe that we may file any document by fax. My experience is that fax filings (with the exception of PVP [Probate Volunteer Panel] reports) will be rejected unless…advance permission had been given (and that it was not generally possible to obtain such permission). If the fax filing is not opened up, we should let Judge Beckloff know and see if that can be accomplished.
An immediate and unanswered question is the “gap” filings—after the published requirement for all filings on or after April 8, 2013 to be made in the Central District. What about cases which are pending in the districts, for which a hearing could be completed before June 10, 2013, and the pending cases which have hearings between April 8 and June 10, 2013, for which supplements, objections, declarations, points and authorities, etc. need to be filed? How do we get those documents filed—I submit if they are filed downtown, the courts in the branches will never see them.
In making the plans for the consolidation, it appears that the drive time from Pomona to downtown had not been considered. There was an indication that there would be some thought given to the problem.
Probate paralegal Linette Velker has provided a summary of Beckloff’s remarks, saying, in part:
Court needs 10 people to support 1 courtroom. There will be 3.5 [new probate] courtrooms [in the Mosk Courthouse]. Downtown should have 35 people on staff but will only have 6 people.
There will be 8 full time Judges.
Court will eliminate 511 staff positions as of 07/01/2013. The staff will be deployed elsewhere or the position will be terminated. There will be 1 research atty for 4 Judges.
How is the Court saving money? By eliminating people.
Considered the idea of “hub courts” but that would still require same # of staff people.
Keith Walker said probate fees seem to be subsidizing other areas of the law (civil, family etc.) Judge said they are getting a lot of fee waivers in conservatorships. Go to court website, “About the Court,” Local Rules are out for public comment if you want to comment.
“Have gavel, will travel”—Judge will come to branch court to handle cases for those with limited mobility and minors uncontested matters….Traveling Judge will only have a bailiff, no staff, no file….
Court has an $85 million deficit. This reorganization plan is a $56.3 million plan.
One afternoon a week the District Court to hear cons/guard matters including accountings. Will hear NO ex partes.
Consider Court Call as an option. Don’t have it in Pomona but do have in Downtown. Another option is video appearance at Branch Court to be heard in Downtown. You can get waiver for Court Call.
See court rule re fax filing ($4.50 +$.50/page).
There will be a form to fill out with the petn on which you request hearing in Pomona. Petn and form gets filed Downtown. All cases go to Dept 29 initially. Matters to be set in either Dept 5, 9, 11, or 29 - will be random.
Discussed issues of attorneys/clients driving Downtown to an 8:30 hearing. Will take at least 2 hours. Call the court and get it put over to 10:00 if can’’ get there in time. Court will be accommodating.
What are all Judges doing when they are not on the bench? Have 1 full day/week of trials. Other ½ days of trials, working on MSCs and settlement conferences.
ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) offices closed as result of this reorganization.
Joan Wiederholt, referee, spoke up. Judge agrees that when you request a referee on the form, you can ask for one in the geographical area.
All new case filings on April 8 and after are filed Downtown in Room 429 (not 258). Hearings will start Downtown on June 10, 2013.
Appointment of cons/grdns are at 10:30. All other matters at 8:30.…
• Los Angeles Superior Court has provided this advisory as to changes in judicial officers’ assignments:
Effective May 10, 2013
Judge Juan Carlos Dominguez is assigned to Department M, Pomona South Courthouse, from Department 4, Pomona North Courthouse.
Effective May 13, 2013
Judge Thomas Falls is assigned to Department R, Pomona South Courthouse, from Department A, Pomona South
Judge Steven Blades is assigned to Department A, Pomona South Courthouse, from Department E, Pomona South Courthouse.
Effective May 17, 2013
Judge Christian R. Gullon is assigned to Department 7, West Covina Courthouse, from Department 3, Pomona North Courthouse.
Judge David Brougham is assigned to Department 5, West Covina Courthouse, from Department 7, Pomona North Courthouse.
Judge Douglas Sortino is assigned to Department E, Pomona South Courthouse, from Department 5, West Covina Courthouse.
Judge Peter A. Hernandez is assigned to Department 10, West Covina Courthouse, from Department 2, West Covina.
Effective June 3, 2013
Commissioner Anthony Peters is assigned to Department 1, West Covina Courthouse, from Department 1, Pomona North Courthouse.
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