The news release about the Judicial Council’s emergency meeting this afternoon, including an audio recording, is here.  The meeting followed by less than 24 hours a dramatic executive order by Governor Gavin Newsom that gives the Council and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye exceptionally broad authority over California court operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chief Justice said about the Council’s newly expanded powers:  “I want to emphasize the key word . . . ‘temporary.’ ”  She also repeated what she said in a statement yesterday, that Governor Newsom has been a “remarkable national leader” during this crisis.

The news release includes this summary:

During the hourlong special meeting held by phone, the council unanimously approved the following measures, extended 90 days after the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted to help alleviate backlogs:

  • Extend the 10 court day period for holding a preliminary hearing and the defendant’s right of release to 30 court days;
  • Extend the time period in which a defendant charged with a felony offense shall be taken before a judicial officer from 48 hours to not more than 7 days;
  • Extend the time period for holding a criminal trial by more than 30 days; and
  • Extend the time period to bring an action to trial by more than 30 days.

In addition to temporarily extending statutory deadlines, the council also directed the superior courts to:

  • Make use of technology, when possible, to conduct judicial proceedings and court operations remotely. This includes the use of video, audio, and telephone for remote appearances, reporting, and interpreting in judicial proceedings, the electronic exchange and authentication of documents in evidence, and the use of e-filing and e-service; and
  • In criminal and juvenile proceedings, including arraignments and preliminary hearings, prioritize use of technology to ensure defendants are not held in custody, and children are not held in custody or removed from the custody of their parents or guardians, without timely due process of law or in violation of constitutional rights.

During the meeting, Judicial Council Administrative Director Martin Hoshino promised Council action on other matters — such as unlawful detainer actions — in the near future.