The Court is launching a comprehensive Video Appearance Project in 32 courtrooms in 17 courthouses in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and County law enforcement agencies to promote social distancing in the nation’s largest trial court.
“I want to express my gratitude and respect to all the dedicated essential Court law enforcement and justice partner employees who have spent many hours over the past two weeks to organize, test and launch this ambitious, County-wide Video Appearance Project,” Presiding Judge Brazile said. “Remote video arraignments are a priority in our Court as we devote our resources to time-sensitive, essential functions during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
People facing arraignment on criminal charges in Los Angeles County must consent to the Webex video appearance. The use of 13 Sheriff’s Department hubs will significantly reduce the number of Sheriff’s Department transports to county courthouses. However, if the arrestees do not consent, the Sheriff’s Department transports them to the courthouse for an arraignment with social distancing measures required under Judge Brazile’s General Order.
Persons who consent to a video arraignment will appear from Custody Locations – 13 Sheriff’s Department substations and 19 police departments throughout the County. They will have the opportunity to confer privately with their attorney via a remote video connection from a separate room in the Custody Location. They will then sit before a monitor with video connections to the courtroom, where the Judge, Judicial Assistant, and Court Reporter will be located and separated by at least 6 feet. Remote connections will be made, if requested, to separate locations for the defense attorney or deputy public defender, an interpreter, if needed, and the prosecuting attorney. Interpreters also will be available for the person’s interview with a defense attorney and/or law enforcement.
Another efficient feature of the Video Appearance Project is a newly launched Custody Paperwork Portal, which allows courtroom clerks to upload release orders and other paperwork to an online web application for law enforcement agencies to access electronic release and/or bail documents. If the Judge orders the release of the arrestee on his or her own recognizance, this new process allows the release to take place directly from the booking station, eliminating unnecessary transports to county courthouses.
The new Video Appearance Project is the most recent addition to the remote appearance options the Court has made available to facilitate access to justice while promoting social distancing. The Court also has launched remote appearance technology in all essential Dependency hearings and in Delinquency hearings, to the extent permitted by law. Pilots are underway in other litigation types, including LPS Conservatorships in the Hollywood Courthouse. Since last year, the Mental Health courts have used video from the California Department of State Hospitals to allow for remote testimony by treating physicians. Remote technology also is used for Competency proceedings.
For the latest updates on Coronavirus/COVID-19-related impacts to Court operations, please consult the Court’s COVID-19 News Center located at the top of our homepage (www.lacourt.org), and follow us on Twitter (@LASuperiorCourt).
View the full notice here.