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.
(Subscription required) It's a sign of the times that the most surprising aspect of the case is not the large award but that a jury delivered a civil verdict at all. The trial began March 2, was delayed March 16 by court shutdowns in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, was postponed again in May, and finally reached a resolution on Monday.
(Subscription required) The judge handling the first federal trial to resume in California slammed prosecutors Tuesday for reconvening a pool of anxious jurors to continue what he considers a weak case.
(Subscription required) She said she's not a fan of micromanaging cases and generally lets attorneys work out their own resolutions. However, she will provide an indicated sentence if requested or a tentative ruling.
A California injury trial that was interrupted months ago by the coronavirus pandemic reconvened this week, concluding with a $10.5 million verdict to a truck driver whose leg was amputated following an accident, in a case referred to as a "guinea pig" test for restarting jury trials in one Northern California county.
Despite calls for court transparency, San Francisco Superior Court has continued to limit public access in their daily proceedings, said the group of nine Court Watch interns who visited the San Francisco Superior Court to request virtual court access and to observe the health precautions the Court was taking in order to make hearings accessible and safe.
July 07, 2020 | Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
The past five months are a window into what several juvenile justice experts say could be next: a long-overdue remodeling of the juvenile justice system that could include reforms in youth detention centers and family courts.
The presiding judge of Los Angeles County’s Superior Court system today extended a 90-day grace period on all traffic and non-traffic infraction tickets as a result of the coronavirus pandemic for an additional 60 days.
Those signed up to take the California bar exam are growing increasingly concerned about state officials’ indecisiveness regarding when and if the bar exam should be administered in 2020, given the public health concerns over Covid-19.
After a series of missteps that resulted in COVID outbreaks in at least two California prisons that had previously reported no cases, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation replaced its top medical officer.
Since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported at San Quentin in the San Francisco Bay Area of California 5 weeks ago, more than one-third of the inmates and staff — 1,600 people — have tested positive. Six have died.
District Attorney Allison Haley stated that “our duty to fulfill the will of the voters is continuous and ongoing. In collaboration with the California Department of Justice and the Napa Superior Court, relief has been brought to more defendants impacted by prior marijuana convictions in a fashion that comports with the law.”
The national press corps filed a brief Monday in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a ruling that said press and public have a First Amendment right to see new court complaints on the day they are filed.
The group will study potential measures to counteract bias, including diversity in jury pools and changes to jury instructions. The group consists of 11 state judges, including retired Supreme Court justice Kathryn Werdegar of Ross.
(Subscription required) "The candidates under consideration reflect the broad diversity of our state and include sitting judges and experienced trial and appellate lawyers. They are well regarded by the bench and bar for their intellectual rigor, legal aptitude, integrity, collegiality, and for their demonstrated record of service to the residents of California. Governor Newsom expects to announce his nominee to the California Supreme Court in the next few months."
California courts rarely find racial bias in jury selection, but in January the state Supreme Court announced plans to review the rules for disqualifying potential jurors. State lawmakers are also considering a measure that would tighten rules on removing juror candidates.
More than 60 state and local leaders, along with upwards of 100 advocacy groups, are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to stop transferring immigrants who have been released from California jails and prisons to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the coronavirus pandemic.
(Subscription required) While both landlords and tenants say they have been negatively affected by Covid-related economic hardship, attorneys for Public Counsel argue landlords are not "remotely comparable in terms of vulnerability," in their motion to intervene. Property owners may still borrow against their properties, sell their properties, and benefit from their properties' appreciation in value, they argue.
(Subscription required) And while the justices said they were keeping open minds, the deans said they got the impression the bar was not considering proposals for this year's graduates to skip the exam altogether and become lawyers under a mentorship plan.
On Monday, after COVID-19 forced a three-and-a-half-month break in a federal criminal jury pending before U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, 15 of the 16 original jurors and alternates showed up to resume proceedings.
The Greenfield courthouse project has been in the works for more than a decade, and has already been the subject of funding-focused delays. Greenfield’s city government made an arrangement where the state would build and fund the courthouse, while the city granted the property. The property is currently owned by the state.
In more than half the country, local courts are reopening and beginning to process a backlog of eviction cases, sparking what economists and housing advocates say could be a historic surge in homelessness as millions of Americans lose their homes.
Fortunately, the California Judicial Council has not changed its position and has established that there will be no “unlawful detainer” hearings held in any civil court in California until 90 days after Gov. Gavin Newsom has lifted the state of emergency, which may occur as late as next year.
While there is no statewide moratorium for commercial tenants, all eviction proceedings have been suspended throughout California since April. Last month, the state’s Judicial Council planned to vote on ending that suspension by August, but they delayed the vote after talking with Newsom and other lawmakers. A spokesperson for the council said there have been no new talks of updating the suspension since.
“The right to trial by a jury of our peers is central to our justice system, and we must continue to safeguard that right,” said Justice Kathleen O'Leary, who will chair the work group. “We join a broad statewide and national dialogue that is focused on ensuring juries fairly represent the communities they serve.”
The Supreme Court today appointed 11 current or retired judges to a work group that a Judicial Council news release says is “to study changes or new measures to guard against impermissible discrimination in jury selection.”
(Subscription required) Court representatives in Alameda and Kern counties noted they participate in bench-bar committees to address bias and other courtroom concerns, while San Bernardino County has an internal committee that focuses on community outreach and bias.