Citing a rise in COVID-19 infection rates, the presiding judge of Los Angeles County’s court system Friday announced an extension of deadlines in criminal trials and hearings to determine if there is enough evidence to require a defendant to stand trial.

In a statement issued hours after the latest order, Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor said, “As a county, we have been in this place before where infections are increasing rapidly and we need to join together to stop the spread during a surge in community transmission. During this fragile time in the pandemic, it is imperative to remind everyone that face masks, worn over the nose and mouth, are required in all Los Angeles County courthouses.”

The presiding judge noted that the court is strongly urging attorneys to appear remotely for hearings, and that the public is strongly encouraged to schedule appointments for services from the Clerk’s Office and access online and courthouse call center options for self-help and other needs.

Effective next Monday, the court system has hired additional sheriff’s deputies on a temporary basis to enforce the order involving masks that must be worn properly in all public areas of the courthouses, including courtrooms, hallways and restrooms, according to the court.

Meanwhile, the new extensions allow for:

— the time within which a criminal trial must be held to be extended by up to 30 days in cases in which the statutory deadline would otherwise fall between July 17 and Aug. 13;

— the time for a preliminary hearing following arraignment to be extended from 10 court days to no more than 30 court days until Aug. 13;

— pretrial hearings in misdemeanor cases set between July 17 and Aug. 13 for out-of-custody defendants to be extended by 90 calendar days unless statutorily required to be held sooner and the defendant does not consent to a continuance.

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