Much like the limited access to so many rooms outside of their own homes, attorneys’ access to California state courtrooms for civil jury trials has likewise been temporarily suspended because of the social distancing necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. As we shelter-in-place, our civil trial courtrooms sit like time capsules of everything that happened before March 15: proceedings stayed, juries on hold or dismissed, and trials either adjourned via mistrial or in suspended animation as litigants still wait to have their day in court.
The growing backlog of civil cases puts much of the California business community in a similar stasis while active and prospective trials languish in a stalled court system. The respective presiding judges and county court administrators will rightly be taking the lead to prescribe the physical requirements to reopen courthouses and courtrooms for civil jury trials. But our civil trial practitioners also have a clear role to play in getting the dockets moving and getting us back to trying civil cases in state court again.
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