LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Citing a high rate of COVID-19 cases, Los Angeles County's presiding judge issued the third emergency order this month authorizing temporary delays in criminal jury trials and preliminary hearings.
``While the number of new COVID-19 positive cases in L.A. County has declined over the last several days, case rates remain high along with the number of hospitalizations,'' Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor said in a statement released by the court. ``The court continues to work with our justice partners to get through this surge together to prioritize safe access to justice. I will continue to consult closely with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on changing case and hospitalization trends as we look forward to getting beyond this Omicron surge.''
The emergency order applies to criminal jury trials and preliminary hearings in which the original or previously extended statutory deadline would otherwise expire by Feb. 11, and extends the time period to hold criminal trials and preliminary hearings by ``not more than 30 days.''
The order also authorizes a 90-calendar-day delay in pretrial hearings for misdemeanor cases set through Feb. 11 unless they are statutorily required to be held sooner and the defendant does not consent to a continuance, as well as a 90-calendar-day delay in post-conviction progress reports set during the same period.
The order additionally extends certain Juvenile Dependency case deadlines to ``not more than seven days'' for minors for whom the statutory deadline would otherwise expire by Feb. 22..
The order notes that everyone regardless of their vaccination status is required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth while in a county courthouse, and that people whose disabilities preclude them from wearing face coverings are urged to seek an accommodation in advance of their court appearance or appointment.