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.

22 counties not complying with bias committee recommendation

July 06, 2020 | Daily Journal
(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.

Privacy concerns prevented positive Covid test from being reported to court

July 06, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Taniguchi said while he thinks Wagstaffe makes a valid point about the privacy of his deputy, the court still wants to find a protocol "so that we can at least then discuss with our employees whether or not they were in close contact" with the prosecutor.

US Judge orders Kern County courts to allow public access

July 06, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd of Fresno ruled the court should instruct sheriff's deputies and private security officers to allow people to request access to court proceedings either through defense counsel or to the judge handling the case.

Death row inmate Scott Erskine, who murdered two boys in San Diego, dies of COVID-19

July 04, 2020 | Los Angeles Times
Scott Erskine, who was on death row for the gruesome 1993 abduction and murder of 13-year-old Charlie Keever and his 9-year-old friend Jonathan Sellers — in a case that haunted the county for almost a decade before it was solved — died this week from what prison officials said appear to be complications from COVID-19.
Guest Commentary: No jurors, no justice: A call to action

Guest Commentary: No jurors, no justice: A call to action

July 03, 2020 | Santa Cruz Sentinel
Expect to receive your invitation soon. We just sent out hundreds of them. Perfect timing coincident with our favorite summer holiday – the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, like almost everything else we love, holiday celebrations have fallen victim to COVID-19. No parades, picnics and fireworks for the first time since 1776.
Federal Judge Urges California to Release Vulnerable Inmates

Federal Judge Urges California to Release Vulnerable Inmates

July 02, 2020 | Courthouse News Service
As Covid-19 continues its inexorable spread throughout California’s state prisons, a federal judge implored corrections officials to release elderly inmates and those with serious health conditions to free up bed space.

What to Know About the Judicial Branch Budget

June 30, 2020 | California Courts Newsroom
The budget cuts $200 million from the state court system, though $150 million could be restored if the federal government sends additional aid by the fall. Further cuts may be necessary if revenues are lower than expected after the extended July 15 deadline for tax payments.

LA, San Bernardino civil filings halved during shutdown

June 30, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) New cases filed during the superior court shutdowns decreased by about half in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, and slightly in Sacramento County, according to legal analytics company Lex Machina. The report encompasses April and May, when courts significantly scaled back operations.

Reducing lockup population for virus was insufficient test of bail reform, lawyers say

June 30, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) While jail populations were reduced to historic lows in many counties, prosecutors and other criminal law experts question whether two months was enough time to draw empirical conclusions about what would happen if voters in November uphold a law that would replace cash bail in California with a risk assessment system. The referendum proposes to block implementation of Senate Bill 10, passed in 2018 but held in abeyance once the initiative qualified for the ballot.
Pre-COVID evictions, on hold since March, resuming in San Bernardino County

Pre-COVID evictions, on hold since March, resuming in San Bernardino County

June 30, 2020 | Orange County Register
Evictions have been on hold throughout California since the state Judicial Council issued a ban on courts processing “unlawful detainer” cases and foreclosures until 90 days after the governor lifts the current state of emergency. But Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties had a backlog of 1,433 move-out judgments that predated the emergency.

Thousands of U.S. judges who broke laws or oaths remained on the bench

June 30, 2020 | Reuters
Reuters scoured thousands of state investigative files, disciplinary proceedings and court records from the past dozen years to quantify the personal toll of judicial misconduct. The examination found at least 5,206 people who were directly affected by a judge’s misconduct. The victims cited in disciplinary documents ranged from people who were illegally jailed to those subjected to racist, sexist and other abusive comments from judges in ways that tainted the cases.

US judges try to move beyond controversy

June 30, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Days after Cormac J. Carney relinquished his post as chief judge over comments he made that were seen as racially insensitive, judges on the nation's largest federal trial court vowed Monday to move beyond the controversy.
States Pressured to Waive Bar Exam for New Lawyers in Pandemic

States Pressured to Waive Bar Exam for New Lawyers in Pandemic

June 30, 2020 | Bloomberg Law
A group called United for Diploma Privilege, made up primarily of recent law school graduates that initially aimed its efforts at California, has been leading the charge. The effort got a boost on Monday when law school deans in the Golden State reversed course and endorsed the diploma privilege option over the state’s tentative plans to offer an online exam in September.
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