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Are Federal Courts in Los Angeles Open During the Coronavirus?

Are Federal Courts in Los Angeles Open During the Coronavirus?
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its ever-evolving requirements, everyone is wondering what businesses are open, what the restrictions are, and what to expect when you arrive. The United States District court continues to monitor the national response to COVID-19 carefully, including the Central District of California (Los Angeles). While the rules may change as conditions change, the courts are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all visitors and staff. The general requirement is that the U.S. District Courts are closely following all requirements from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The Court is open following certain guidelines, which may vary depending on type of service. Until further notice, the Court is allowing mediators to excuse any party, attorney, or representative from appearing in person for mediations. The mediator can At the discretion of the assigned mediator, mediations held through the Court’s ADR Program may be conducted by video or telephone conference.

Mask Requirements
Any individual who seeks to enter the U.S. Courthouses and the Probation and Pretrial Services Offices are required to wear a mask at all times, in all spaces (with certain exceptions as noted below). The mask is required to completely cover and conceal your mouth and nose at all times. Employees who are working alone in a private office, or a workspace with at least six feet of distance from others, may remove their mask temporarily. If you do not have a mask, you will not be permitted entry by the U.S. Marshal, Deputy, or Security Officer. If you are denied entry, you can contact the individual courtroom or office to seek alternatives to entry.

Social/Physical Distancing Requirements
Even with masks, all individuals are required to practice physical social distancing at all times. For appropriate distancing, you are required to stay at least six feet apart from others. There is an exception permitting individuals from the same household or counsel during in-court proceedings. If you are not practicing the required physical distancing, you will be required to leave the building. If you’re asked to leave, contact the court to request alternative arrangements.

In-Court Requirements
For all in-court proceedings, the following rules apply:

* Every person in the courtroom is required to wear a mask.
* Masks can only be removed when permitted by the judge, such as testifying witnesses, in-court identifications, or individual juror questioning.
* If you are permitted to remove your mask, you must wear a clear face shield or speak from behind plexiglass barrier, and maintain physical distance.

Court proceedings will be organized and conducted to allow participants to practice physical distancing at all times. Exceptions may be granted for counsel who choose not to require physical distancing from their clients.

The Court will continue to monitor and adjust requirements as needed due to COVID-19 conditions changing and CDC guideline evolution. Some Frequently Asked Questions include:

* I received a jury summons. Do I still have to report for jury duty? Yes. The court has resumed jury trials.
* Can family members attend criminal court proceedings?: Yes. All attendees will be required to follow the mask and distancing requirements.
* Are in-person hearings being held?: In-person hearings are permitted at the assigned judge’s discretion. For civil cases and certain criminal proceedings, hearing may be held by video or teleconference.
* Is there an alternative to filing papers in person?: Yes. Certain documents can be submitted through the Electronic Document Submission System (EDSS). You can also apply for permission to e-file documents directly to the Court’s Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) System. For more information, visit Filing Court Documents.

* Will I receive instructions for video and teleconferencing? Yes. If your proceedings will involve video or teleconferencing, your counsel will receive the appropriate instructions.
* How can I listen to a video or teleconference proceeding?: For members of the public or press who want to listing to a hearing, simply refer to the assigned judges schedule on their calendar or web page for call-in or login-in instructions. If this information is not available, you must file a Hearing Access Request Form at least four hours before the hearing.

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