Earlier today, I attended an online State of the San Diego Superior Court Address by Presiding Judge Lorne A. Alskne, Assistant Presiding Judge Michael T. Smyth, and Court Executive Officer Michael Roddy. They have an anticipated reopening date of May 26, 2020.
We learned that 30-40% of the court staff are currently working at the courthouses while social distancing. They have been processing backlogged documents, including the filings we have mailed to the courthouses for processing during the court’s closure. While they cannot officially “file” our paperwork when the court is closed, the staff has been and will be getting our court pleadings organized and ready for filing as soon as they officially reopen. We were informed that upon reopening, the documents will be file-stamped in the order they have been received. I anticipated this would be the case and my office has already been mailing our client’s court pleadings to the courthouse. Thus, our client’s documents will have priority over those submitted after the court reopens.
I also learned today that the child custody and visitation mediations that were cancelled during the court closure are currently being rescheduled. Thus, if your Family Court Services mediation appointment that was cancelled, we will receive notice of the rescheduled date and notify you upon receipt of the same.
When the courthouses reopen, the clerk’s office plans to be ready to accept our family law filings via electronic filing, which is great news for our clients. My office will be sending e-filings in as soon as we are able to do so. The administration is also working on having clerical stations and drop boxes at the entrances of the courthouses ready to accept filings in person when the courthouse opens. This is a change from processing documents across the counter in the clerks’ offices inside the courthouses.
I learned today that 9,046 family law hearings were canceled during the San Diego County Courts’ closure. These will be rescheduled, with restraining order and child custody hearings taking priority. The Court is planning on using video appearance via Microsoft Teams for some family law matters, and the administration is working on ways to have social distancing in the courthouses. This will include tapes with six-feet distancing, such as what many of have seen in grocery stores. We will keep our clients informed of the status of their individual court hearing date as soon as it is provided to us by the Court.
Meanwhile, until Governor Newsom’s Stay at Home Order is lifted, my office door must remain locked, but I am available to answer your questions and discuss your concerns by phone, video, and email. My answering service remains on during non-business hours, and we will continue to receive your messages from the answering service as soon as they are taken. You can also reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To ensure prompt delivery, please copy my assistant Dalinah at email@example.com.
With best personal regards,
Heidi & Staff