SAN FRANCISCO—The Judicial Council at its Jan. 19 meeting will receive an update from two of the eight superior courts that have started receiving CARE Act petitions, including lessons learned from their experiences. The act authorizes specified people to petition a civil court to create a voluntary CARE agreement or a court-ordered CARE plan that can include treatment, housing support, and other services for persons with untreated schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
At the meeting, judges from Orange and San Diego counties will highlight their courts’ efforts around stakeholder engagement and implementing the CARE Act, which include:
- Holding meetings for judicial officers and training for court staff;
- Collaborating with community stakeholders, including county partners, legal aid, and treatment providers; and
- Community outreach and education via websites, publications, and media
Seven counties (Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Stanislaus, Tuolumne) started CARE Act implementation Oct. 1. Los Angeles County implemented the act on Dec. 1, and the remaining 50 counties must implement by Dec. 1, 2024.
The act tasked the council with collecting data on the program’s implementation, which it reports quarterly to California Department of Health Care Services. Presenters will share the latest statewide statistics on the act’s implementation at the council meeting.
The council helped courts put the legislation into practice by approving new court rules and forms and creating fact sheets, webinars, and videos to educate courts and the public about the CARE Act process. The council also continues to meet with courts and county stakeholders to gauge progress and identify challenges.
Remote Appearances in Civil Cases Get High Marks
The council will also receive a report finding the ability to hold remote appearances in civil cases is popular with court users and staff.
On June 30, 2023, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 133 to extend the option to appear remotely for a court conference, hearing, proceeding, or trial using remote technology in civil cases. Set to sunset January 1, 2026, the bill also requires the council to submit annual reports to the Legislature on any technology issues affecting the remote proceedings.
The latest report shows that:
- California courts statewide handled nearly 150K civil proceedings remotely per month
- More than 90% of court users and 98% of court staff reported a positive experience
- Overall, less than 5% of litigants and only 2% of court staff reported experiencing technical issues during the remote proceeding
Other Items on the Council Meeting Agenda:
Racial Justice Toolkit for Judicial Officers and Court Staff: The council will review a new toolkit designed to help bench officers, trial court leaders, and court staff incorporate racial diversity, equity, and inclusion into their court operations; build effective community partnerships; train and educate staff; and develop and sustain a diverse workforce. The online toolkit has studies, practice guides, and links to sample racial justice programs.
Update on Program Providing Free Legal Services in High-Stakes Civil Cases: The council will receive an update on the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act pilot program, which funds free legal services for low-income Californians facing critical civil cases such as child custody, eviction, conservatorship, elder abuse, and restraining orders.
Education for Judges and Court Staff: The council will consider its next two-year education plan for developing and delivering education to the judicial branch, which includes justices, judges, and court staff. The plan includes live programs and courses, offered both in person and remotely, as well as on-demand videos, online courses, webinars, podcasts, and publications.
2024 Legislative Priorities: The council will consider the types of legislation it should support to increase access to justice for court users, which includes adequate court funding to address increased costs, remote access to the courts while balancing due process, new judicial officer positions in counties with the greatest need, ensuring the availability of verbatim records of court proceedings, and efficient court operations.
The complete council meeting agenda and council reports are posted to the California Courts Meeting Information Center. A link to a live webcast of the meeting will be on the California Courts website on the day of the meeting.