Citing a high transmission rate of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, the presiding judge of the county’s court system Thursday announced another 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, Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor said the court is continuing its “cautious restoration of court operations to pre-pandemic levels” and noted that the court is balancing its obligation to “maintain access to justice with its commitment to the safety of court users, court employees, judicial officers and justice partners in the midst of the continuing COVID-19 public health crisis.”

“We continue to use this relief extremely sparingly as a failsafe amidst competing requests from stakeholders and justice partners to contract and expand services,” Taylor added.

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 Aug. 14 and Sept. 11;

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

— pretrial hearings in misdemeanor cases set between Aug. 14 and Sept. 11 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.

— the extension of time periods within which a minor taken into custody pending juvenile dependency proceedings must be given a detention hearing to no more than seven days, applicable only to minors for whom the statutory deadline would otherwise expire between Aug. 14 and Sept. 11.

The new order notes that all people regardless of vaccination status are required to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths while in a Los Angeles County courthouse.

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