DCDLA President Amanda Branan asked for a post COVID update for the 292nd. I am very happy to have been back in-person recently, and will be there every day from now on. I look forward to seeing each of you in the trenches.
I will be on the bench every workday. We will continue to use Microsoft Teams for remote proceedings, and Adobe Sign for plea papers. Two Court laptops will be set up in the courtroom for plea paperwork or virtual hearings. In particular:
- Pass Slips: We are going to keep the virtual pass slip system we’ve developed during COVID-19.
- In-court appearances are not required for lawyers in non-dispositive settings. You can be virtual or in person. If you have permission from me, and can represent to me that you’ve had contact with your client, your client does not have to be physically present for non-dispositive settings. I’ll leave it up to your good judgment, and only require that you communicate with the assigned prosecutor and fill out the Pass Slip for Mrs. Esparza. Defendants must be in person for dispositive settings or upon the request of the Court, Mrs. Esparza, the Probation Department, the Pre-trial Department, or if requested by the State and approved by me.
- Will Pleas be in person? The defendant must be present in person for all pleas. The lawyers can choose whether to be in person or virtual. Either way, please plan ahead and discuss your plea and the appropriate paperwork with your client before the day of the plea. The Court’s schedule is much tighter than it used to be. The days of come-and-go at any time before noon are gone.
- Any other updates? Jury Trials are returning to Frank Crowley! The Office of Judicial Staff Counsel, Judge Collins and a host of others have put together a system for socially-distanced trials. Jury selection returns to Frank Crowley on a rotating basis beginning June 1st.
Communication is key. Please let me know if you have any further questions. It has been an honor to work with each of you, and I look forward to continuing the journey for years to come. Here’s to the future!