NewsLinks is a collection of recent news items relating primarily to the California judicial branch. NewsLinks does not verify nor endorse the accuracy or fairness of the news items, and the views expressed in opinions, editorials, and commentaries are those of the writers only.

Trial by Zoom Jury?

May 26, 2020 | Fox&Hounds
If the pandemic persists with a second or third wave, the notion of trial-by-zoom, so inconceivable at the beginning of the year, will not seem so undoable by the end of the year. If the trial-by-zoom does come along, look for it to first be attempted in civil cases.

Nevada County eviction, foreclosure moratorium extended

May 26, 2020 | The Union
According to the council’s emergency framework, which was meant to provide consistency among various county and city orders, a court may not issue an eviction summons unless a judge finds it is a necessary action to protect public health and safety. This applies to all evictions, whether they are related to COVID-19 or not.

Ban on evictions, fines for landlords clears committee

May 26, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) The state Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday passed bills to protect residential and commercial renters harmed by economic shutdowns resulting from the coronavirus. But organizations representing landlords and insurers pointed out these bills could have constitutional problems and may simply transfer risks onto property owners and company shareholders.

Bill aims to curb some juror challenges

May 26, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Under the proposed law, if the judge determines that an objective observer could view bias as playing a factor in a peremptory challenge, the initial objection would be sustained, regardless if the discrimination was found to be intentional or negligent. In that case, the judge would be inclined to either seat the challenged juror, declare a mistrial or provide an appropriate alternative remedy accepted by the objecting party.

Courts, attorneys resist proposed changes during COVID-19

May 26, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Many superior courts in California are only opening their doors Tuesday, or plan to do so soon after more than two months of being closed because of the COVID-19 virus. Court leaders face a host of daunting challenges, from determining how to safely bring jurors into courtrooms -- usually using a staggered system expected to take much longer -- to processing thousands of filings submitted since March.

Newsom proposes closing youth prisons as crime drops, coronavirus drains budget

May 25, 2020 | San Francisco Chronicle
California held more than 10,000 juveniles in state custody in 1996, a time of rising crime rates and fearful descriptions of young criminals as “super-predators.” Now, violent crime rates have been falling for years, coronavirus stay-at-home edicts have reduced them further, state funding has dried up, and the juvenile custody population is down to 750.

Which Bay Area courts are poised to resume jury trials?

May 24, 2020 | San Francisco Chronicle
The statewide 60-day freeze on jury trials ends Tuesday, but only a few California counties are taking immediate steps to summon prospective jurors, while keeping them 6 feet apart in court.

Another pandemic-docket denial, this one concerning in-person sex offender registrations

May 23, 2020 | At the Lectern
The petition, filed on April 1, sought to prohibit, “until the threat of COVID-19 ends,” requiring sex offenders to appear in-person for their mandatory periodic registration updates. A May 7 gubernatorial executive order “encouraged” law enforcement “to adopt telephonic, remote, or other procedures for registration and reporting . . . that are consistent with State and local public health guidance regarding physical distancing.”

Kern County Superior Court summoning jurors

May 23, 2020 | The Bakersfield Californian
"The Kern Superior Court continues to monitor closely the evolving coronavirus situation," it said. "The court continues to take steps to ensure procedures meet federal, state and local guidelines. We are receiving important timely updates from the Department of Public Health and the Judicial Council of California. As the situation evolves, we may adjust precautionary measures, as warranted."

Alameda County Superior Court to resume small claims, restraining order hearings remotely

May 23, 2020 | The Daily Californian
Small claims trials will be heard remotely starting June 1 through the court’s BlueJeans teleconferencing platform, and those involved in the trials will receive specifics before their hearing dates, according to a press release from the superior court. Civil harassment, elder abuse, gun violence and domestic violence restraining order trials will also be held remotely starting June 1.

Robert Durst’s Trial Being Moved to Inglewood Courthouse

May 22, 2020 | mynewsLA
The jury had been hearing the case in a courtroom at the Airport courthouse, near Los Angeles International Airport, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced court officials to close the county’s courthouses to all but time-sensitive, essential matters in March. Moving the trial from the courtroom where it was being heard to a larger one at the Inglewood courthouse will better enable the court to implement social-distancing protocols, according to Hearn.

Legislature begins approving court funding cuts

May 22, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) In a presentation near the beginning of Thursday's hearing, Deputy Legislative Analyst Drew Soderborg gave more detail on where the dollars would come from. They would include $178 million in reductions from state trial courts, $14.2 million from dependency counsel, and $23 million from the pot of money that supports the Supreme Court, appellate courts and the Judicial Council.

Deputy DA is new San Joaquin County commissioner

May 22, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) "After 22 years of serving as a deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County, I am honored to have been appointed commissioner by the superior court of this county," Rasmussen said.

Federal jury trials postponed in the Northern District

May 22, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription Required) The move by the San Francisco-based federal court is the latest by federal and state superior courts to delay trials due to the complicated logistics of keeping jurors and everyone else in courthouses 6 feet apart to follow state and county health rules.

Legislation to Cut Rents and Other Bills You Should Know About

May 21, 2020 | SacObserver
“COVID-19 has immensely affected our economy, put pressure on both tenants and property owners to fulfill their payment obligations, and has exacerbated the need to keep people housed during an existing housing crisis,” said Gonzalez of her bill.

Affirming and disapproving the same Court of Appeal opinion, Supreme Court finds prosecutorial misconduct requires reversal of inmate’s assault conviction

May 21, 2020 | At the Lectern
In People v. Rodriguez, the Supreme Court today holds that, during jury argument, a prosecutor impermissibly and prejudicially vouched for the credibility of two prison officers who testified against an inmate defendant convicted of assaulting one of the officers. The prosecutor said the officers wouldn’t jeopardize their careers by lying.
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