The presiding judge of Los Angeles County’s court system Thursday announced a voluntary pilot program that will allow litigants to get a prompt non-jury trial in cases assigned to Personal Injury Hub courtrooms.
Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor said the pilot program — which will begin Monday and end Nov. 1 — will offer an alternative in light of current logistical concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic relating to scheduling jury trials and the high volume of cases in need of disposition.
The presiding judge said the program is aimed at helping parties who are “seeking swifter access to justice following pandemic-related delays.” He said court officials will “continue to explore and implement efficiencies and programs to expedite access to justice in Los Angeles County.”
Both sides need to agree to participate in the pilot program, in which they waive their right to having their case heard by a jury, and can sign up for the program electronically by submitting a form.
Once filed, the case will be assigned to a civil trial department for a non-jury trial within 60 days, and attorneys will be required to represent that they will be ready for trial within 60 days to qualify for the program.
The trials may also be held remotely if requested.
“The court appreciates the thoughtful assistance and cooperation of all attorneys and parties as we work to resolve pandemic-related delays,” Taylor said. “By reducing the number of cases awaiting jury trial, the court can make more efficient use of juror assets for criminal and other cases.”
Tamila C. Jensen, president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, called the fast-track personal injury pilot program “an important and much-needed step towards continued access to justice and above all else, safety for the litigants and judicial officers who serve the public.”