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FAMILY LAW ARTICLES

December 18, 2020
Ventura County Courts Will Remain Open For Family Law and Criminal Cases

Hi Carla Hartley here. It is December 14th, 2020 and I am coming to you with good news. The court in Ventura County, California is going to remain open, at least for the family law and criminal cases, probably some other ones. I have some more specifics on how the family courts are going to be administering the courts and this will be affecting your appearances for the upcoming, God knows how long. That’s what I’m talking about today.

All right, I already told you guys in a previous video that all mandatory settlement conferences from December 12th until January 26th had been continued by the court. Not canceled. Not taken off calendar, continued. So they’re not going to happen from now until January 26th. However, the court has been continuing these matters by order of the court, not by really involvement of the parties and selecting dates. Most of ours are being continued to early February. So starting in early February
we’re finding out starting January 27th, the court is intending to conduct all mandatory settlement conferences by Zoom. So it sounds to me like the court has gotten its infrastructure problems solved with regard to you know, the equipment that’s needed to carry this kind of bandwidth for so many videos to be going on in so many courtrooms,
that’s all good. The problem with having mandatory settlement conferences by Zoom is I think it lacks some of the gravitas that going to court knowing your next step is trial generally has but the good news is the court stayed open. We’re getting our MSC dates and the court will be moving forward with the stuff. We are glad, Zoom no Zoom. We want the court to stay open. We want continued access to justice.

Second point of reference today from what we’re hearing from Judge JoAnn Johnson who is our presiding family law judge, starting January 4th,
2021 all requests for orders in the Family Court will be by Zoom. This is going to be mandatory to be by Zoom except in certain exceptions. I feel reasonably certain that most of the exceptions will be delineated later and that although we’ve got this very brief message from Judge Johnson telling us
what the broad strokes of what’s going to be happening so we can start planning, I think this is now that the court and the Judiciary has made its decisions
we’re getting to know a little bit and now that they’ve made these decisions they can go for the next step through implementation. So we’ll be getting more information on the specifics of the implementation as time goes by. These exceptions where our foes will be in person will probably be part of that.

Now, what is an RFO? If you don’t know it’s a request for order and it’s in the Family Law Court in California. Many places would call this a motion.
This is the law in motion calendar for Family Court. Some places call it an order to show cause or an OSC. California, It’s an RFO. So it’s basically a request that you’re putting before the court that is short of an evidentiary hearing or a trial. And I think I’m going to miss being in court
as often as I generally am but we are also creating a fairly nice room here where we will be able to have our clients present while we are Zooming these appearances.
We don’t have to have the client on screen in their jammies in their bed reclining. We can have them dressed for court and present here all while we’re keeping social distancing and staying safe.

All right, third. It’s not telling us when but starting immediately, some Zoom mediations are going to be going forward.
This is child custody mediation. So your mediations for child custody issues are going to be by Zoom, some of them starting right now. You don’t have an option and some of them will be starting later. We don’t have really specific information on that. Again, I think that’s because the decisions have been made and now we have to look for the implementation.

Fourth, status conferences will remain suspended. Now what happens if we have an X party which is an emergency hearing in family law? Right now X parties are not going to be by Zoom unless they’re specifically requested for reasons the court consider suitable. Alright Department 34 is our domestic violence restraining order courtroom,
although that’s generally where most of them are heard the other courtrooms do hear domestic violence restraining orders under certain circumstances.
Zoom appearances in 34 will be available for domestic violence restraining orders. Right now 34 is also our child support calendar and your child support appearances are for the most part mandatory by Zoom. So we have other information in this missive from Judge Johnson to the Family Law Bar Association and again, we’re not being included in the decision-making process but our Family Law Bar Association has had a good relationship with our Judiciary here for many many years. And I think that is certainly necessary. We want to continue to have that. Many other areas are not so fortunate in their Bar and Judiciary relationship.

So we’re going to not push too hard. We’re going to be grateful for the information we get. We’re going to do our best to ensure that we are assisting the courts with all of the stuff. That we’re obeying the rules and keeping our clients obeying the rules to the courts can stay open so that we can all keep working and so that you can continue to have access to justice. I hope this has been helpful. As I get more detailed information. I will try to share it with you. I hope you guys are in for a good week. I hope you’re planning on a happy holiday season and with any kind of luck a Merry Christmas.

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