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April 29, 2020 – California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye on Wednesday issued a statewide order further extending deadlines for California’s superior courts to hold criminal trials. The order adds a 30-day extension of time, bringing extensions of time to hold criminal trials during the pandemic to a total of 90 days.
The order also urges courts to work with justice partners to hold trials earlier if possible, including through the use of remote technology when appropriate. But they must be able to do so while complying with health and safety laws, regulations, and orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“The continuous operation of our courts is essential for our constitutional form of government, and for providing due process and protecting the public. However, courts are clearly places of high risk during this pandemic,” Cantil-Sakauye wrote.
The Chief Justice first extended criminal trial deadlines statewide and suspended jury trials in an order March 23.
The order is among a slate of emergency orders and rules approved by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye or the Judicial Council of California in recent weeks to ensure California courts—which remain open as “essential services” under Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home executive order—can meet stringent health directives while also providing due process and access to justice.
The wide-ranging measures have included those to reduce jail populations to help curb the spread of the virus; suspending evictions and judicial foreclosures; allowing pretrial hearings to be conducted remotely; prioritizing critical juvenile justice proceedings; and more.
The Chief Justice’s order extending deadlines for criminal trials also:
- Clarifies how to calculate the total 90-day extension of time;
- Advises courts that further extensions must be requested under Government Code section 68115 with specific facts supporting the request; and
- Urges courts to work with justice partners to encourage and facilitate settlement of pending cases.