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California Judicial Council adopts new rules during COVID-19 pandemic
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California Judicial Council adopts new rules during COVID-19 pandemic

The Judicial Council, the policymaking body of the California courts, approved 11 temporary emergency rules on Monday to ensure California courts can meet the state’s health directives while also providing the public with due process and access to justice.

The rules that were adopted include “setting bail statewide at $0 for misdemeanors and lower-level felonies to safely reduce jail populations and staying eviction and foreclosure proceedings to protect California residents from losing their homes during the pandemic.” The council received more than 100 comments from the public about the new rules, including attorneys, law enforcement, legal aid and advocacy groups, court reporters, and unions. The regulations were developed to “preserve the rule of law and protect the rights of victims, the accused, litigants, families and children, and all who seek justice,” said Chief Justice Rani Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the council.

Monday’s ruling took place during the Judicial Council’s second emergency meeting in California since the COVID-19 outbreak. The first emergency meeting on March 28 also adopted measures to give courts flexibility to maintain essential services in the state while protecting the health and safety of the public.

Some of the other actions that are to go into effect immediately include extending the statute of limitations governing civil actions, extending the timeframes for specified temporary restraining orders, and allowing defendants to appear via counsel or remote technologies for pretrial criminal hearings.

For more on COVID-19, see our special coverage.