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.

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.

Opinion: The death of civil justice

May 21, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) The state's governing Judicial Council has worked around the edges, approving electronic filing of civil cases and encouraging remote video depositions, but so far it has failed to insist that county courts adopt 21st century web-based technology as a workaround for closed courtroom doors. And, the citizens who need this branch of government to adjudicate their civil rights suffer unnecessarily from the lack of recourse.

Woodland voters could help determine fate of cash bail

May 21, 2020 | Daily Democrat
SB 10 will appear on the November ballot as a referendum. A “yes” vote will eliminate cash bail in California and replace it with a risk assessment test and a “no” vote will abandon the risk assessment test and keep the cash bail system in place.

Attorneys concerned adoption of new bar exam would lower standards while law deans support a change

May 21, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) "California is overrun by attorneys who are degrading the practice of law," and adopting a less stringent bar exam will not help, Arash Shirdel, founder of Pacific Premier Law Group in Santa Ana, said Wednesday. "The bar exam results have been inching lower over the past few years because the quality of the students has diminished, not because the bar exam has gotten more difficult."
Siskiyou County jury trials may resume next month

Siskiyou County jury trials may resume next month

May 20, 2020 | Taft Midway Driller
Jury trials, which require jurors to spend time together sequestered in close quarters, were suspended in mid-March and will not resume in the state until at least May 23, although that order from the state’s Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye could be extended.

Judicial Council Issues RFI on Modernizing Legal Forms

May 20, 2020 | Techwire
(Subscription required) The Judicial Council of California, the policymaker for California’s courts, is seeking new tools and technology to make more than 1,400 forms "more intelligent, adaptive and user-friendly."

California Proposal Would Limit Teens' Transfer to Adult Jails

May 20, 2020 | Chronicle of Social Change
Under legislation moving through the California Senate, teenagers who turn 18 and would otherwise be moved to adult jails could remain in juvenile facilities – a shift described as a protective measure against the deadly spread of coronavirus.

California prisons to begin accepting inmates as coronavirus deaths mount in Chino

May 20, 2020 | Los Angeles Times
“We are targeting May 26 to resume county jail intake; however, this will be a finely measured process with CDCR and CCHCS [California Correctional Health Care Services] institution operations, public health, and health care experts working very closely together in real-time to make housing, movement, and transportation decisions,” Dana Simas, the department’s press secretary, said.

Alleged child molester released after attorney argues 'unusual circumstances' under COVID-19

May 20, 2020 | Calaveras Enterprise
During a Tuesday trial setting conference at the Calaveras County Superior Court, Ames was issued a bail amount of $350,000 by visiting Tuolumne County Judge Douglas C. Boyack after his attorney argued that he should be released under house arrest at his parents' nearby home, due to the “unusual circumstances” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook wants high court to end dispute over subpoenas

May 20, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) During the Tuesday video hearing, Lipshutz said the Stored Communications Act clearly bars Facebook from disclosing the private content of its users' accounts in response to a subpoena. He urged the state Supreme Court justices to settle the issue since social media companies are increasingly finding themselves forced to participate in such disputes, which wastes court resources and delays proceedings.

Civil trials may not resume until 2021 in many counties, judges say

May 20, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) The contrast is striking between superior courts compared to state and federal appellate courts, which have been holding oral arguments for weeks. The California Supreme Court held oral arguments on appeals in civil cases Tuesday, with a set of criminal appeals scheduled on Wednesday, while the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been busy with oral arguments with attorneys connecting from home.
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