January 12, 2021

Hello OCAABA members and supporters,
First and foremost, we hope that you and your loved ones continue to remain safe and healthy during these times. As responses to the surge are in full swing, your OCAABA COVID-19 Response Committee is reviving our Court Update Email. In order to streamline all of the court updates, we comprised a list of the following recent orders to avail our members of the recent changes and to assist in the accountability of our legal community. By now, most of us have settled into the remote-work routine. For those who must go to court and are seeking to stay abreast of the latest orders and safety measures adopted by our courts, we provide the following links and information. Please be advised that conditions change rapidly so please visit the court websites for the latest information.

The Judicial Council is the policymaking body of the California courts, the largest court system in the nation. Under the leadership of the Chief Justice and in accordance with the California Constitution, the council is responsible for ensuring the consistent, independent, impartial, and accessible administration of justice. Judicial Council staff help implement the council’s policies. The Judicial Council continues to closely monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation. Courts have been advised to follow guidance provided by the Department of Public Health, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the spread of the virus. Courts have been advised to follow guidance provided by the Department of Public Health, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the spread of the virus.

Updates are available at: https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/covid-19-news-center/court-services-and-operations. California law circumscribes the authority of the Chief Justice during emergencies. The table shows emergency orders that have been signed by the Chief Justice. See https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/covid-19-and-courts/court-emergency-orders. This link also provides each of the counties in California with their list of updates by date order. Please continue to check the counties that may affect the cases you are handling for the most current updates.

Please see the following updates:

12/9/20: Second Amendment to the Fourth Amended Administrative Order 20/06: Civil Order regarding Court Closure executed December 9, 2020 by Presiding Judge Kirk H. Nakamura (Cases that were not previously set for MSC and new cases filed through March 31, 2021 will not be set for CMC hearing. Trial dates scheduled 19 to 21 months from the date the case was filed, with an MSC one month prior. Other CMC hearing dates for unlimited and limited cases are also included.)

12/10/20: Administrative Order No. 20/26 effective December 14, 2020 by Presiding Judge Kirk H. Nakamura: The Orange County Superior Court has launched a mobile phone application to make contact tracing of COVID-19 cases more efficient and provide timely notifications to Court users of possible exposure. Every attorney entering any courtroom in Orange County Superior Court will have to use their mobile phone’s QR code reader to register their presence in that courtroom. Each courtroom will have a posted unique QR code on its door to ensure quick access to the application and accuracy of tracking. Attorneys will be required to enter their name and mobile phone number, as well as other relevant information, which will be stored for a short time in a safe database administered by the Court.
    Access to the database and the information collected will be strictly limited to Court personnel responsible for contact tracing. The Court is continually working on providing Safe Access to Justice and would like to remind everyone that the use of facemasks or face coverings is mandatory for anyone entering a courthouse.
    Exemptions issued by anyone other than the Court will not be honored. For Court ADA accommodations and exclusions, please email Adainformation@occourts.org or visit this web page http://www.occourts.org/directory/ada/. Social distancing rules will also be strictly enforced in all facilities; thus, the number of individuals entering public courtrooms and elevators will be subject to space limitations. Persons displaying possible coronavirus symptoms will not be allowed in Court facilities.

ORANGE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT – NORTH JUSTICE CENTER: The North Justice Center is closed through Friday, January 29, 2021 due to building safety concerns. Cases scheduled for the North Justice Center will continue to be heard at alternate locations. The following link provides the temporary calendar/department assignments: NJC Temporary Criminal Courtroom Assignments (pdf)

Chief Judge Philip S. Gutierrez issued the following order on December 7, 2020: https://www.cacd.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/Order_21-002.pdf - The United States District Court for the Central District of California’s Continuity of Operations (“COOP”) Plan has been extended through and including January 29, 2021. Extension of the COOP Plan is necessary to ensure the continuous performance of essential functions and operations of the Court.

The following actions will be taken pursuant to the COOP Plan:
  • All Courthouses of the Central District of California will be closed to the public except for hearings on criminal duty matters, as discussed below.
  • No in-person hearings will go forward except for hearings on criminal duty matters, as discussed below.
  • In civil cases, all appearances will be by telephone or video conference.
  • Criminal bench duty will continue to take place in each division by telephone or video conference with the defendant’s consent and in court absent consent. All criminal document duty will be handled by each division in the normal course of business. In other criminal matters, all appearances will be by telephone or video conference.
  • Jury trials remain suspended.
  • All regularly scheduled grand jury proceedings are suspended and grand jurors will not otherwise be required to report for service or to call in to the United States Attorney’s Office for reporting purposes during the period for which grand jury proceedings are suspended.
  • The Bankruptcy Court will issue separate guidance.
  • Chambers staff will be directed to telework except as otherwise directed by their assigned judicial officer. The Clerk of Court will implement a telework policy for the staff of the Clerk’s Office and the Probation and Pretrial Services Office at her discretion.

Furthermore, under General Order No. 11-10, the Court grants to mediators the authority to excuse a party, a party’s representative, or an attorney from in-person attendance at a mediation conducted. At the discretion of the assigned mediator, mediations held through the Court’s ADR Program may be conducted by video or telephone conference.

Please see the following additional orders/notices:

We have many people to be thankful for, but we do want to give a special shout out to Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and the Orange County Superior Court, as they continue to direct our lawyers to balance the health and safety needs of our local communities with the civil and constitutional rights and liberties of all individuals and groups.

Thanks to committee member Sharon Oh-Kubisch of Smiley Wang-Ekvall, LLP for preparing this email.

We Are Better Together! Be SAFE and WELL!
OCAABA COVID-19 Response Committee


Denise Crawford Orange County Public Defender
Jessica Cha Law Offices of J.Cha & Associates
Justin Fong
Sabrina Ly Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP
Sharon Oh-Kubisch Smiley Wang-Ekvall, LLP
Geri Wong-Williams Orange County District Attorney