The Judicial Council of California has launched the Pandemic Continuity of Operations Working Group, which will quickly collect best practices and publish a framework to help the state's 58 superior courts address interrupted services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group, a diverse roster of 22 superior court presiding judges and court executive officers from a Judicial Council advisory group, plans to publish by early June its collection of best practices and guidance from federal, state, and local entities.
The group will gather best practices—from both inside and outside the judicial branch—courts can use to manage disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic that have taken a toll on facilities, personnel, case processing, and budgets. The group will develop a template courts can customize as the state, counties, and cities begin to lift or modify public health restrictions.
“Our court system, like the rest of state government, must continue to serve the public during an unprecedented pandemic,” said Judicial Council Administrative Director Martin Hoshino. “The working group will provide a road map for trial courts by reviewing best practices and creating a template and tool kits that different-sized courts can use as they serve the public during the pandemic and beyond.”
Members of the Pandemic Continuity of Operations Working Group:
- Chad Finke, Court Executive Officer, Alameda County
- Judge Clare Keithley, Butte County
- Kim Bartleson, Court Executive Officer, Humboldt County
- Michelle Martinez, Court Executive Officer, Kings County
- Sherri R. Carter, Court Executive Officer, Los Angeles County
- Judge Andrew Sweet, Marin County
- Judge Donald Proietti, Merced County
- Chris Ruhl, Court Executive Officer, Monterey County
- Judge Julie R. Culver, Monterey County
- Bob Fleshman, Court Executive Officer, Napa County
- Judge Kirk Nakamura, Orange County
- David Yamasaki, Court Executive Officer, Orange County
- Jake Chatters, Court Executive Officer, Placer County
- Deborah Norrie, Court Executive Officer, Plumas County
- Judge Steve Sanders, San Benito County
- Judge Lorna Alksne, San Diego County
- Judge Craig B. Van Rooyen, San Luis Obispo County
- Judge Deborah Ryan, Santa Clara County
- Judge Karen Dixon, Siskiyou County
- Judge Donna L. Stashyn, Solano County
- Arlene Junior, Court Executive Officer, Sonoma County
- Hector Gonzalez, Court Executive Officer, Tuolumne County
On the national front, California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and Martin Hoshino are also taking part in the "Post-Pandemic Planning Initiative" led by the National Center for State Courts, the Conference of Chief Justices, and the Conference of State Court Administrators. That group will analyze the impact of the pandemic on judiciaries nationwide, provide guidance to courts on how to safely recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and identify which adapted court practices should continue following the pandemic.
The creation of the Judicial Council working group is the latest action following 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, suspend evictions and judicial foreclosures, allow pretrial hearings to be conducted remotely, prioritize critical juvenile justice proceedings, and more. For more, visit newsroom.courts.ca.gov.