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Imperial County Court Continues Phased Approach To Reopening

The Imperial County Superior Court is scheduled on March 29 to implement the second and third phases of its six-phase plan to restore full services, it announced in a Friday, March 19 press release.

Already, on Monday, March 15, the court implemented phase 1 of its plan, and had opened civil, probate, and long-cause family law calendars to counsel, litigants, and witnesses. 

Phases 2 and 3 will next restore the following calendars and departments to counsel, litigants, and witnesses: All remaining family law calendars; restraining-order hearings; El Centro traffic and small claims; juvenile and mental health calendars; and El Centro Traffic Clerk’s Office will be fully opened without restriction.

Also on March 29, the court will open its criminal readiness calendar. All counsel, witnesses, and out-of-custody defendants will be required to appear in the courtroom.

Only in-custody defendants will continue to appear remotely until Phase 4 is fully implemented, the court’s press release stated.

The court anticipates implementation of Phase 4 sometime in April and will provide advance notice.

Remote appearances in departments and calendars affected by the implementation of each phase will revert to those that were in place before the COVID pandemic had prompted a reduction of services, unless specifically authorized otherwise.

The only persons allowed into courtrooms during Phases 1 through 4 are counsel, litigants, witnesses, and members of the press, the court stated.

Criminal jury trials have remained ongoing throughout the pandemic and the number of trials will increase in the weeks and months to come.

All non-confidential criminal matters are currently available to the public to listen to at https://imperial.courts.ca.gov/CourtCalendars, and the court anticipates making all other non-confidential matters available as well in the next few weeks at the same court website link.

The court will continue with its safety protocols to help ensure the safety of those who work and enter the courthouse while ensuring every litigant access to justice.

The safety protocols and the revised Master Plan for the Restoration of Services can be found on the court’s web site at https://imperial.courts.ca.gov