While I do not have the official written notice, below are the updated procedures for Stanislaus County. I received this information from the Court liaison on December 11, 2020:
- Starting next week, all CMCS and Settlement Conferences are going to be continued at least through February of 2021.
- Starting in January, all economic hearings will be done via telephone.
- Guardianship will still require personal appearances.
- All of the Judges will still have the discretion for doing trials in person, but there will likely be a push to do multiple day trials by Zoom. If you have a trial coming up, please contact the department if you have questions on how that trial is going to proceed.
- Starting in January, due to reduction in staff, one of the three custody courtrooms (Department 11, 13, and 14) will be dark with the other departments handling their cases. This will be done on an alternating week basis. The Judge whose courtroom is dark will be in chambers helping the other Judges with ex parte requests and other paperwork.
Question: With a settlement conference being continued, what is the status of that trial?
The trial is being confirmed. The settlement conference is actually being vacated. However, if counsel is in need of assistance from the Judge in an effort to settle the matter prior to trial, that is still an option. Please reach out to that department’s client to schedule a meeting with the Judge based on the Judge’s availability. Obviously, this meeting would occur via phone.
Question: If a courtroom is dark that week, what happens to trials if they are scheduled for that week in the dark department?
This is still being discussed and the Judges are trying to figure this out. Be prepared that there is a possibility that your trial will be continued if this occurs, especially if the department that is covering the dark department already has a trial of it’s own. There is no schedule as of yet as to when each department is going to be dark. Hopefully, a schedule will come out on a monthly basis, but that schedule is not developed yet.
Question: What if I don’t agree to a Zoom trial and that is how the court is going to proceed?
If the court wants to proceed with a Zoom trial rather than an in person trial and you are going to object, be prepared to provide a legal basis for your objection. Simply “I don’t want to” will not be sufficient and the trial will proceed via Zoom despite your objection. Also be prepared that if the Zoom trial is continued, the trial may be another year out. Each Judge on a case-by-case basis is going to address whether the trial can be in person or Zoom.
As an additional announcement, after 14 years, Judge Jacobson has decided to pass the baton as Supervising Judge of the Family Law Division. Commencing in January, Judge Cassidy will be the Supervising Judge of the Family Law Division.