Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Presiding Judge Brazile:
Superior Court’s Top Judge Seeks Extension of Emergency Powers
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court bench officers are expected to wear face coverings while on the bench and in public areas of courthouses, under a directive issued by the court’s presiding judge, Kevin C. Brazile, acting pursuant to emergency powers vested in him by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
“I made a request today for an extension of my emergency powers under Government Code section 68115 for another 30 days,” he told the METNEWS yesterday, adding that he anticipates approval today.
Under that code section, the presiding judge of a superior court may be granted sweeping powers during an epidemic or other specified emergency conditions. Brazile has put on hold all trials, has severely limited access by members of the public to courthouses, and has shut down the Beverly Hills, Spring Street, and Catalina Courthouses.
“By mandating that bench officers wear face coverings, we will… decrease the chances of an asymptomatic judge or commissioner spreading the virus to others,” Brazile said in a statement issued Saturday.
Brazile on April 6 announced that bench officers and staff members were encouraged to wear face covers. Since then. It has become mandatory for staff members.
All bench offers are now expected to don masks—although the statement mentioned the prospect of exceptions being made based on the need “to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, to address medical conditions and for recognized good faith reasons, such as religious beliefs.”
Judicial officers and employees have each been supplied with two washable face coverings and members of the public entering courthouses who lack masks are supplied with paper ones.
“The court is committed to protecting the health and safety of the public, attorneys, justice partners, judicial officers and employees,” Brazile said, adding:
“Most medical and healthcare experts recommend the use of face coverings during this pandemic. Paired with the protocols for social distancing, we can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our courthouses and communities.”
The Superior Court is conducting only essential, time-sensitive proceedings in courthouses and is utilizing remote appearance technology and has set up customer service call centers.
A statewide order by Cantil-Sakauye bars the holding of criminal trials until June 24. A March 23 general order by Brazile precludes conducting civil trials in the county.
Brazile’s order expires June 22. However, the presiding judge has set that as the target date for resumption of criminal trials, saying they will have priority over civil trials.
He said yesterday that the “moratorium on civil trials will be part of my pending extension order.”
Some judges prognosticate that resumption of civil trials will not occur until next year.
Copyright 2020, Metropolitan News Company