Face Masks Remain Mandatory Inside All Courthouses Under Cal/OSHA Workplace Standards
Los Angeles County courthouses will open Monday without any public access restrictions, eliminating the requirement for advance appointments for service as well as the need to make an online request for in-person courtroom seating, Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor announced today.
“Expanding access to justice safely remains the Court’s top priority,” Presiding Judge Taylor said. “During the pandemic, the Court adopted alternative services and solutions to offer safe access to justice. Today, I am pleased to announce the Court is aligning with, and responsibly following, federal, state and county public health and Cal/OSHA workplace guidance that eliminates social distancing in public spaces. Public health guidance also dictates safety measures, including mask-wearing, to protect workers and the public from spread of the virus and those persons not yet vaccinated. This is a huge step forward in our rise from the pandemic.”
Presiding Judge Taylor today issued a new General Order, which is attached, that encourages the public seeking services from the Clerk’s Office, court support services, and/or the Self-Help Centers to continue scheduling advance appointments to reduce lines. “The silver lining to our pandemic challenges has been the development of our remote access tools through LACourtConnect,” Presiding Judge Taylor said. “This positive access feature will remain a staple in our Court into the future, offering less expensive and convenient alternatives to in-person appearances.”
Here are other important updates and requirements under the Order:
- All persons, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face mask over both the nose and mouth while in public areas of the courthouse, including courtrooms. Children under the age of two (2) are exempt from the Order. Court employees must wear face masks that meet the Cal/OSHA requirements.
- Individuals with a physical or mental health impairment or disability who seek an exemption from the face mask requirement must contact the ADA liaison at the courthouse prior to their appearance to request a reasonable accommodation pursuant the Americans with Disabilities Act or Rule 1.100 of the California Rules of Court. A list of ADA liaisons is available at www.lacourt.org/ada/adahome.aspx.
- Individuals who decline or refuse to wear a face mask without a court order exempting them from the mask requirement will be denied entry to the courthouse and/or courtroom.
- Individuals who remove their face masks after entering the courthouse or courtroom will be reminded to wear them. If they refuse, they may be denied services, may have their legal matters rescheduled, and/or will be asked to leave the courthouse or courtroom immediately. Persons who refuse to leave voluntarily will be escorted out of the courthouse and/or courtroom by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department personnel.
- No advance permission will be required for in-person courtroom seating for hearings on or after June 28, 2021.
- Drop boxes will remain outside courthouses as a filing option.
- While snack bars and cafeterias will reopen, over the next few weeks, eating or drinking is prohibited in courthouse hallways.
- Effective June 28, the Court will no longer offer the Remote Audio Attendance Program (RAAP) to listen remotely to courtroom proceedings. The Court implemented this temporary program during the pandemic recognizing there may be abuses of the Court’s orders prohibiting recording, filming, and distribution of proceedings. Widespread breaches by the public in a recent court proceeding highlighted the need to return to in-person, open courtroom proceedings, which is a welcome development.
“For many months, we have required everyone in a courthouse to socially distance and remain six feet apart – at entrances, and in hallways, elevators, courtrooms, and offices,” Presiding Judge Taylor said. “Beginning June 28, it will no longer be required to stay six feet apart from other people. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to everyone who has made this day possible by following federal, state, and L.A. County public health protocols and who led the efforts towards public vaccination. This is a great day for everyone who visits and works in our courthouses.”
View the full notice here.
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