Thursday, September 13, 2001
George Declares Judicial Emergency as Result of Terror Attacks
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Chief Justice Ronald M. George has declared a statewide judicial emergency as a result of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks on the East Coast and the precautions that have been taken in California as a result.
“Pursuant to the provisions of section 68115 of the Government Code…it has been determined that…a public calamity threatens the orderly operations of the California trial and appellate courts,” the chief justice said in an order issued late Tuesday.
The emergency declaration allows defendants in custody to be held for preliminary hearing up to 15 days after arrest, rather than the usual 10, and extends speedy-trial deadlines in both misdemeanor and felony cases by 30 days.
It also allows court sessions to be held anywhere in the county, including juvenile and adult correctional facilities, and allows suspects to be held up to five days—rather than the usual two—before being taken before a judge following arrest.
In issuing the declaration, which expires next Tuesday unless terminated or extended by the chief justice, George cited Tuesday’s statewide emergency proclamation by Gov. Gray Davis. Davis expressed concern that law enforcement personnel who would otherwise be in the courts might have to be diverted to other duties.
Courts acting under the authority of the emergency declaration must issue separate emergency orders by the Tuesday deadline, but may take the emergency actions prior to the issuance of the formal order. State courts spokeswoman Lynn Holton said information would be available today as to which courts have sought authority under the order.
Emergency authority is not needed for extension of speedy-trial and similar deadlines from Tuesday to yesterday, officials noted, in those courts which closed Tuesday.
That authority comes from Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 12b, which provides that if a public office is closed for an entire day, that day is treated as a holiday “insofar as the business of that office is concerned” and any act otherwise required to have been done that day may instead be done on the next business day.
Judicial emergencies have been previously declared in Los Angeles County in 1992 due to the rioting that broke out after the acquittal of the police officers accused of beating motorist Rodney King and in 1994, following the Northridge earthquake.
There were two judicial emergencies in 1998—the first in June after disturbances broke out in Huntington Park after matches featuring Mexico’s World Cup soccer team, and in September after a transformer in the Criminal Courts Building burned out and the elevators wouldn’t operate.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company