Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance

Phased Reopening of the Court

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The United States District Court for the Central District of California announces the following regarding its operations.

Phased Reopening of the Court

Per the gating criteria that was adopted by the Court, local COVID-19 exposure risks in the Central District of California are decreasing, such that allowing additional in-court hearings is appropriate at this time.  Therefore, effective March 22, 2021:

Access to the Courthouses

  • All Courthouses of the Central District of California will be open to persons with court business and subject to all posted restrictions.

Court Hearings

  • In-court hearings will be permitted as follows:
    • Hearings in emergency civil matters may proceed in court at the discretion of the assigned judge.  Hearings in non-emergency civil matters will continue to proceed by video and telephonic conference. 
    • Hearings in any criminal matter may proceed in court at the discretion of the assigned judge.  Hearings by video and telephonic conference may continue to be held in certain criminal matters as set forth in Order of the Chief Judge No. 20-043.
  • Members of the public who wish to view criminal bench duty proceedings held by video conference will be permitted to enter the courthouses for this purpose.  Members of the public may listen in on criminal bench duty proceedings held by telephone or video conference without coming to the courthouses. 
  • For members of the press or public who wish to listen in on a hearing being held by telephone or video conference, refer to the assigned judge’s procedures and schedules web page or calendar for login-in or call-in information.  If login-in or call-in information is not available or to listen to or view a criminal bench duty matter, submit a Hearing Access Request Form at least four hours prior to the hearing.

Jury Trials

  • Until further notice, no jury trials will be conducted in civil cases.  However, individual judges, at their discretion, may offer bench trials by video conference in lieu of postponement.
  • Until further notice, no jury trials will be conducted in criminal cases.

Mandatory Chambers Copies

  • Until further notice, all district judges and magistrate judges do not require mandatory chambers copies during the pandemic.
  • Any judge can require chambers copies in a particular case if desired. The chambers copies shall be mailed to the judge via Fed Ex. Chambers copies cannot be hand-delivered to the courthouse.

Issuance of Jury Summonses

Although jury trials remain suspended at the current time, the Court will gradually begin issuing jury summonses given the process for issuing jury summonses must begin seven weeks before jury trials can commence.  The Court will start by issuing jury summonses for the Southern Division.  The circumstances in the Southern Division are different than the Eastern and Western Divisions due to the Southern Division’s small number of judges, large amount of space available to conduct jury trials, and position in California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy tier framework.  Unlike the Eastern and Western Divisions, which are comprised of multiple counties that have been in Tier 2 of California’s tier framework for a different number of weeks, the Southern Division is comprised of only one county that has already been in Tier 2 for one week. 

As a result, the Court will begin issuing jury summonses as follows:

  • The Court will begin issuing jury summonses for the Southern Division starting on March 22, 2021.
  • Based on the current circumstances, the Court anticipates issuing jury summonses for the Eastern and Western Divisions in approximately three weeks.

The Court continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic as it evolves and will provide updates concerning the Court’s operations as adjustments are made.  Please continue to wear masks and maintain appropriate physical distancing upon entry to the United States Courthouses or Probation and Pretrial Services Offices in the Central District of California

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Kiry K. Gray
District Court Executive/Clerk of Court
March 19, 2021