May 26, 2020

Hello again OCAABA members, friends and allies:

I hope this email finds you well and healthy. The following is another update to help us  do what lawyers do best: consume reliable information and convey it to others.
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Since April 29, 2020, there have been no revisions to the Judicial Council Emergency Rules page. It is my understanding that courts, including the Orange County Superior Court, have requested guidance from the Chief Justice as the court embarks upon re-opening. So far, I have not heard of any response from the Chief Justice but I suspect an update from the Judicial Council is forthcoming.  
Keep in mind that our local Presiding Judge has the power to institute his own orders should the situation so require: "Superior courts are also authorized to adopt any proposed rules or rule amendment intended to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to take effect immediately, without advance circulation for public comment." This power was granted by the 3/23/20 order at https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/internal_redirect/cms.ipressroom.com.s3.amazonaws.com/262/files/20202/Statewide%20Order%20by%20the%20Chief%20Justice-Chair%20of%20the%20Judicial%20Council%203-23-2020.pdf
Links to the Emergency Rules and the other Emergency Orders and Actions can be found here: https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/judicial-branch-emergency-actions-criminal-civil-and-juvenile-justice
Today, the Orange County Superior Court embarks on what has been deemed a "soft re-opening."  
Judge Nakamura has appeared on several webinars in the past few weeks to provide details and answer questions about what this means. I have been in attendance during these webinars and the court has emphasized great concern for staff and public safety.  
The court is still encouraging video/telephonic appearances (WebEx instructions: https://www.occourts.org/media-relations/covid/WebEx_Instructions.pdf) and has instituted stringent social distancing measures at the courthouse. Challenges have been identified and the court is doing everything it can to ramp up operations in a safe manner. For example, a challenge the court is facing is elevator transportation: only two people are permitted per elevator. For those of us who practice at Central, this poses a tremendous challenge as people are typically packed into the elevators like sardines around 9AM and 12PM. The court indicated that the re-opening will be slow and he is proceeding with caution. The new jury trial suspension remains through 5/28/20 but the court anticipates approximately 45 courtrooms will re-open in the coming few weeks.
RE:  In-Progress Jury Trials Resume: When the courthouse closed to the public on 3/17/20, there were several jury trials in progress. As part of the soft-opening, these trials re-commence today. Face masks and social distancing are required at the courthouse. The court issued a press release "Courts to Resume Jury Trials" on 5/22/20 which can be found here: https://www.occourts.org/media-relations/current-news-releases/Jury_Press-Release_5.22.2020.pdf
RE:  Jurors - On May 22, 2020, the court issued a press release related to Jury Summons, directions to summoned jurors and safety measures:   https://www.occourts.org/media-relations/covid/Jury_Service_5-29-20_and_AFTER.pdf  When jurors return, they may check-in via their mobile device (at Central only so far) and proceed to the jury assembly room. 
RE:  Branch Courts:  Harbor, West, North, etc. remain closed to the public for now but the court has indicated there is a re-opening plan for each. Several stakeholders and members of leadership were summoned to weigh in on the re-opening plans for these courts. The plan for the branch courts is to open for limited matters only - which includes criminal jury trials and time sensitive preliminary hearings. As most everything is a work in progress, the information/plan is subject to change and the courts are grateful for our patience and understanding.
RE:  Information pertaining to Harbor Court soft-opening:
RE:  Information pertaining to West Court soft-opening:
RE:  Information pertaining to North Court soft-opening:
  • There will be no preliminary hearings at NJC this week due to abatement and construction. Prelims should resume next Monday (6/1/20) but NJC does not have a date to resume trials at the courthouse. You must wear masks at the courthouse and the entrance is TBD. Courtrooms will be assigned and some felony matters will come back to NJC but the time line is uncertain for now (except the preliminary hearings.) For misdemeanors, NJC will have similar procedures as HJC (refer to Harbor Justice Court soft-opening information link above). The NJC system should work in a similar manner as HJC, WJC.
The court has revamped its website and information is organized by subject/practice area. I highly recommend you visit this page as it contains the most recent information for each court. https://www.occourts.org/media-relations/CoronaVirusUpdate.html  
A special thanks to Judge Vu and Judge Hurwitz who reached out to OCAABA to provide the following information pertaining to the Family Law Court: Click here
Congratulations to newly appointed judges Thomas Lo and Robert Gerard!
A special shout-out to Judge Nakamura - he's been doing an AMAZING job leading the Orange County Superior Court through unprecedented challenges and has always taken the time to engage with our community, answer questions and work tirelessly to protect the public and our legal community. If there were an Pandemic-MVP Award, he would get it - hands down!
Access to the federal court is very limited, particularly on the civil side but some criminal proceedings are going forward. Generally, it is up to the individual judge to make decisions about how cases progress. As for Judge David Carter, there does not appear to be much of a slow-down but it is most definitely a case by case basis. For criminal matters, most are being funneled to Los Angeles and some video appearances are being conducted. The Grand Jury is still suspended. Vital matters are going forward but jury trials are being pushed out. Please see the following orders/notices:
Updates will be posted on the court's website: https://www.cacd.uscourts.gov/
OCBA has been providing programming and updating leadership on the latest local legal happenings. * If your firm is opening up - or has an opening plan, President Scott Garner would like to hear from you. Please email him at  sgarner@umbergzipser.com  *  
If you missed any of the most recent webinars, be advised that OCBA has replays posted on their website. OCBA's sections have or are gearing up to meet virtually and provide programming. Please note the following COVID-19 task force webinars:
For those of you who do not know - OCBA maintains a calendar with not only OCBA's events, but also affiliate, organization and community events. Please check the OCBA calendar at https://www.ocbar.org/Calendar/All-Events to see what's going on!

Don't miss the "OCBA Charitable Fund Raise Your Glass - At Home - Join us for an at home virtual wine tasting fundraiser." 5/29/20 5:30-7:30PM https://www.ocbar.org/Calendar/Event-Detail/sessionaltcd/RYG2020 Every year, the OCBA Charitable Fund hosts Raise Your Glass to benefit many of our local non-profits and charitable organizations. In a show of solidarity, I hope you will not let COVID-19 stop us from supporting all the incredible non-profits whose work is more important than ever - register, attend and DONATE!  
Every Tuesday, OCBA hosts a teleconference with Affiliate Leaders. I do my best to take accurate notes but please check with the respective organizations/sections/affiliates for the latest information. Here are some highlights from 4/28/20, 5/5/20, 5/12/20 and 5/19/20:
  • Elections are coming up so please visit the OCBA website and complete an application if you are interested in leadership.
  • International Law Section: Their first MCLE webinar was held last Monday RE: updates on US Immigration Law. More programming is in development.
  • Support the Raise Your Glass Virtual wine tasting event on  5/29/20 5:30-7:30PM
  • CA State Bar Task Force: The CA State Bar webcasted a meeting where the Board of Trustees revisited the ATILS recommendation for the "sandbox" RE: AI and non-lawyer ownership of firms.  (There should be a replay) RE: Bar Exam - the results of Feb bar came out Friday and the pass rate was low - 26.8% - the lowest pass rate since the 1950s. The July 2020 Bar Exam was moved to Sept 9-10 and the CA State Bar was ordered to make every effort to test online with remote proctoring. The National Conference of Bar Examiners were directed to administer the Multi-State on two different dates in September - but it is unclear if this will come to fruition. Those wishing to withdraw can obtain a full refund. Efforts are being made to speed grading on the exams because students will need time to study should they need to retake the exam in February 2021. By 5/11/20, a work plan for the online administration of the Bar/Baby Bar will be submitted. If the State Bar/Supreme Court finds the plan infeasible, further action will be taken.
  • Community Outreach Committee: They are currently conducting two virtual drives and about to start a 3rd. For the first two, the flyers are out (1st was PPE, 2nd drive was food drive) and are still currently underway. The 3rd drive is going to be an Office Supply Drive for Public Interest/Pro Bono orgs that now have staff working at home but do not have enough supplies for each individual home office. More information about the Office Supply Drive will be forthcoming on the OCBA website.
  • Masters Division and Update on remote mediation and arbitration: Masters Division "Legends of the Law" will be moved from May to another date TBD. The July Angels game event is "still up in the air." Trivia Night will also be moved. If there is anything Masters Division can do to help, please reach out. There has been some controversy on the Masters Division list-serve, Bar Leaders have reached out to J. Andler to address ad hominen comments and inboxes being inundated with responses - these issues are being addressed. Remote mediation and arbitration has been productive. Advocates are offered a "dry run" with a neutral to make sure things run smoothly before the client is involved. Cases are settling and though there is nothing like a firm trial date to help settle a case, cases are nonetheless settling through the remote process. Please email J. Andler if you have questions.
  • Lawyer Well-being Committee: A replay of the Mindfulness webinar is on the OCBA website. The Committee has resources should members want connections. Lawyerwellbeing.net is a good resource.
  • Veterans and Military Committee: The COVID Cope App from Veteran's Affairs Dept. is available for download and free for all.  The committee is not active and taking time off.
  • Mommy, esq.: Took April off, they are having trouble reaching their speaker for May. They are thinking about a support meeting.  In June, they are thinking about a program for healthy eating.
  • LRIS: Referrals are surprisingly down so please spread the word that LRIS is here to help - please get the word out that they are waiving the $25 fee. http://www.lrisoc.org/ Any funds made by LRIS are donated to charitable organizations.
  • PLC: Need for Pro Bono is high. Attorneys should look at PLC's case list on their website or join their newsletter. Immigration, Family, Landlord/Tenant are the highest needs. Adelanto Immigration Facility is a current focus - as PLC is trying to get more detainees released. Housing and Consumer is mostly advisory at this point but PLC is concerned about the "avalanche" when the court opens as creditor and eviction filings are expected to be high. PLC needs help with research projects. The PLC website has a COVID-19 section and PLC is helping other non-profits respond to COVID-19.
  • Community Legal Southern California - All offices are currently closed (closed in March) and transitioned to fully remote services and hotline is active during normal operating hours. The current need is exceeding staff capacity. They welcome pro bono help after hours and weekends, especially. They are still serving DV clients in court both physical appearances and in LA courts via WebEx. There is a huge increase in housing and consumer debt collection resources. They are taking on employment issues as well (this is new) unemployment appeals, insurance, etc. There is concern that landlords will be heading to court soon to evict non-paying tenants - also they are getting calls about landlords who are using "shady" practices to supplant rent. The Expungement Clinic is still active. There is concern about a reduction of calls from DV and Elder Abuse victims because perhaps, victims are sheltered at home with their abusers. Contact Kate Marr from CommunityLegalSoCal.org kmarr@clsocal.org to volunteer. They have access to most any language either in-house or a language service.
  • Veteran's Legal Institute:  All in-person legal clinics are now telephonic/virtual and no veteran has slipped through the cracks.  VLI is doing outreach via phone calls and emails to make sure their clients are safe and are still taking online applications for assistance. They are collaborating services with other orgs and for volunteers, there is a case list that can be emailed to you. They are hoping attorneys will volunteer to take a case or have a newer attorney be supervised by a volunteer. VLI is still taking law clerks and is hoping attorneys will volunteer to help train the clerks. If you missed giving Tuesday, please make an "impactful gift" as organizations still need resources. Currently, they are doing an office-supply drive. To volunteer: Call Antoinette at 949-290-5733 or go to their website and email.
  • Elder Law and Disability Rights Center: ELDR is very focused on homeless in addition to disability and elder law matters.  Weitzman is hoping to collaborate with Pro Bono volunteers to mitigate/represent indigent citizens on criminal matters. There is concern for low-income families and estate plans, including conversion, for online resources. The Special Education Program that was just kicked off will be modified post COVID-19 this summer. There is concern for increased trauma (for children) because of COVID-19. For people without cars, access to food has been a challenge and volunteers to deliver food is requested.
NAPABA and National Advocacy to PROTECT APIs
NAPABA's Policy Director, Navdeep Singh, is a speaker for OCBA's Unity in the Time of Covid-19 webinar linked above.  
The 2020 NAPABA Convention in Los Angeles remains on the NAPABA calendar but I suggest you frequently check for updates before making plans or reservations to attend in-person.
Orange County local government information can be found at  https://www.ocgov.com/default.asp 
Testing, testing, testing
California COVID-19 cases, deaths, tested  https://covid19.ca.gov/
Update as of 05/26/2020

Total cases:

 96,733 (+2.3% increase)

Total deaths:

3,814 (+ 0.5% increase)

Tests reported:


See the latest data

Orange County Health Care Agency COVID-19 Case Counts and Testing Figures: https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc 
This map shows corona virus cases in Orange County cities - see a daily update of how many people confirmed to have COVID-19 live in which area  https://www.ocregister.com/2020/03/27/map-shows-coronavirus-cases-in-orange-county-cities/
Some things we can do  RIGHT NOW:
  • Support LOVE! OCAABA is proud to support the coalition of over fifteen non-profit organizations in Orange County serving the API vulnerable and elderly community, LOVE (Love Our Vulnerable and Elderly). 
"LOVE TODAY" Packaging, Distribution and Drop-Off Event
June 6, 2020
10:00 am to 12:00 pm
To learn more about LOVE and how you can help please check out the links below for more information:
Facebook page: https://bit.ly/3bTe7A3
GoFundMe page: https://bit.ly/2zb6N5N
  • Join or renew your OCAABA membership!  
OCAABA's COVID-19 Response Ad Hoc Committee has been very busy finding ways to serve you in a virtual environment. If you have mixed feelings or anxiety about "Re-Opening" - you are not alone. If you want to chat, or a friend of yours needs to chat, we can connect you to resources. As time in quarantine has worn on all of us, I have appreciated that living is far more than just staying alive and have been thinking about who I want on my "quarenteam" or in my "social bubble." I am endeavoring to look back upon this time proud of the creative ways I physically and mentally survived all of this - hopefully with a few funny stories to tell and a new appreciation for the little things - including how AMAZING my garage re-org looks...  Take care my friends!
Once again, feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best to continue to update you. 
In Unity,
Denise Crawford
2019-2020 OCAABA President

Some more stories to make you feel better about all of this:
Arnold Schwarzenegger's feeds his pet donkey and mini-horse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXLdJvzk0FU Yes, they live in the house with him and he swears that they have only had an accident one time...