Deadlines extended in LA County courts as officials work through COVID-related case backlog

The presiding judge of Los Angeles County’s court system on Monday announced an extension of deadlines in criminal trials and juvenile dependency proceedings in an effort to help the court recover from heavy caseloads affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The court will continue to take a measured, responsible approach to returning court operations to more normalized levels,” Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor said in a written statement. “Although we are advancing to try cases at a much more regular pace, we are monitoring a COVID bottleneck of back-logged criminal and civil trials building over the last 16 months that our court will control as we work diligently to address each matter.”

He noted that the court “continues to prioritize safe access to justice while adapting to the constant pandemic-related changes in Los Angeles County,” and that the court’s mandatory face mask order has remained in effect and now aligns with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health that requires the public, including vaccinated people, to wear face masks while in public indoors.

The order allows for:

–The time within which a criminal trial must be held to be extended by up to 30 days in cases in which the statutory deadline would otherwise fall between July 17 and July 30;

–The time for a preliminary hearing following arraignment to be extended from 10 court days to no more than 30 court days until July 30;

–Pretrial hearings in misdemeanor cases set between July 17 and July 30 for out-of-custody defendants to be extended by 90 calendar days unless statutorily required to be held sooner and the defendant does not consent to a continuance; and

–Minors taken into custody pending dependency proceedings to be held up to seven days in cases when the deadline for release would otherwise fall on or between July 17 and Aug. 13.

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