LASC PROBATE COURT ANSWERS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS SERIES NUMBER 3 (JUNE 12, 2020)
Our nation is facing a public health crisis that is unprecedented in our country.
Thank you for your patience and flexibility during this fluid and uncertain time.
While the court offers guidance on processes within its control, it cannot address or direct processes handled outside of its governance, such as processes within the control of medical or housing facilities, the Sheriff’s Department, Banks, Secretary of State’s Office, etc. The court is also not inclined to instruct counsel on how to handle their cases or advise counsel on issues with the Court that are outside the scope of Probate.
Pending further Order of the court, and pursuant to the General Order dated June 11, 2020, beginning on June 22, 2020, the Probate Division will resume expanded operations. Although we are ramping up operations, we all must remember that there is still a COVID – 19 pandemic and that social distancing is critical.
Please keep in mind that the situation remains fluid and that we could possibly see further court orders. If any further orders are issued, updated information will be provided as the situation develops. Counsel and parties are encouraged to regularly check the court’s website for COVID – 19 updates.
Q1: How will the Court’s ramping up affect current procedures in place during the time-sensitive, essential function period?
A: The Probate Division has been handling ex parte applications and requests for temporary guardianship or conservatorship only. Effective June 22nd, the Probate Division will resume expanded operations, except for Trials which will resume in approximately October of 2020 or as otherwise noticed by the Court.
Q2: What are the new Probate Calendar times when the Court resumes on June 22, 2020?
A: Upon resuming full calendar operation, the Court must still employ practices that promote social distancing. With that aim, the Court has staggered and reorganized its calendars as follows:
8:30 Matters without evidentiary processes expected, such as petitions recommended for approval or for which notes are expected to be cleared and matters recommended for a continuance
9:30 Matters for which JTD’s only remain or hearings on contested matters (upon ramp up - not trials – see Questions 1 and 9)
11:00 Guardianship Appointment Petitions
1:30 Conservatorship Appointment Petitions
3:00 Motions or other matters (not trials for now – see Questions 1 and 8) as set by the Court
Q3: How do I make a request to continue a hearing if I have a conflict with the continuance date?
A: The local form LASC PRO 080 - Request To Continue Petition Hearing and Order may be submitted for Court review and approval or an email may be submitted to the Probate Attorney or Probate Examiner who drafted the notes to request a new court date. The Email addresses of the drafting Probate Attorney or Probate Examiner is set forth at the end of the Probate Note.
Q4: If appearing in person, will there be social distancing protocols and other requirements in the courtroom and courtroom spectator seating area?
A: Yes, designated seating will be available. The court has taken steps to indicate appropriate placement in courtroom to maintain social distancing. We have also staggered calendars (see question 2) to reduce number of persons in the courtroom at one time.
In addition, Presiding Judge Kevin C Brazile has ordered mandatory use of a face covering/mask in all Los Angeles County Courthouses and Courtrooms. See
www.lacourt.org and by clicking on the “Safe For You News Center” link for the News Release dated June 5, 2020 and General Order dated June 5, 2020 for complete details.
Q5: Will the Court conduct live hearings on certain, or all, matters?
A: Live hearings will be conducted on all matters. However, all Parties are authorized and encouraged to appear remotely for the calendars. Attorneys and self-represented litigants will have the option to make audio or video appearances in Los Angeles County courtrooms by using the Court's new LACourtConnect technology that will provide a secure, safe and convenient way to attend hearings remotely. Further information can be obtained via www.lacourt.org. and by clicking on the “Safe For You News Center” link. The Probate Judicial Officers will conduct in person hearings with social distancing protocols and other requirements in place in the courtroom which will significantly reduce the number of persons who can be in each courtroom.
Q6: Where can I find out more information about LA Court Connect?
Further information can be obtained via www.lacourt.org. and by clicking on the “Safe For You News Center” link. There you will find information such as “Appear for Your Hearing Remotely”; “New Attorney Portal Launches” and “LACourtConnect.”
Q7: Will ex parte procedures revert to the time prior to the pandemic?
A: The non-appearance ex parte procedure currently in place during the essential function period will remain in effect when the Court resumes full operation on June 22nd as social distancing in the Courthouse and all areas will continue to be necessary in furtherance of protecting the public and court staff. No one involved with the ex parte matter should appear at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse or wait in the Probate Hall near Room 260. A Probate Attorney will not be available there to interact with anyone. The order on the ex parte will be electronically returned to Bar members in a timely manner. Questions or issues may be sent to ProbateExPartes@lacourt.org.
Q8: How do I reserve a date for a Law & Motion matter?
A: The procedure for obtaining a date for a motion remains the same. Motion requests are to be made to courtroom assistants by calling the respective department in which your case is assigned. Note that the date you seek to obtain is merely a request. A hearing date for the motion will be obtained thereafter from the Judicial Officer. You will be notified by the courtroom assistant of the date assigned.
Q9: Will we keep our trial dates if they are currently set for August/September 2020?
A: Probate does not plan to resume Trials until approximately October 2020, or as otherwise noticed by the court. The Court will issue notice of continuance if it becomes necessary to reschedule a matter currently on calendar.
Q10: Will new filings receive earlier hearing dates?
A: Generally, no; the auto-settings for the efiling system have been adjusted to give hearings dates for newly filed petitions later in the year to avoid having those matters get hearings before the continued matters that have occurred because of the pandemic. Special settings may be authorized at the discretion of the judicial officer or for time sensitive matters as specified by code.
Q11: Is PACE processing payments once the court reopens?
A: PACE has not suspended operations and will continue to process claims.
Q12: Will the court closure and continuances affect filings with the Clerk’s Office?
A: In general, filing of court documents has been available through efiling or drop box.
Q13: Will Mandatory Settlement Conferences scheduled to occur during the essential function period be rescheduled?
A: Mandatory Settlement Conferences (MSC) from March 17, 2020 to June 30, 2020 were cancelled. A cancelled MSC may be rescheduled with the department where the matter is pending when the next hearing takes place. There is now a dedicated email address for Mandatory Settlement Conferences at SMCProbateMSC@lacourt.org.
Q14: Are the Clerks able to work on exemplification certificates during shutdown?
A: The Court is processing requests for exemplification, but these are not processed as priority during the time-sensitive, essential function period.
Q15: Has the Court developed an alternate way to lodge the original Will with the Court?
A: Beginning June 15, appointments may be requested for lodging of original Wills with the Clerk’s Office. Appointments will be necessary to access in-person courthouse services starting June 15th. For additional information on the clerk’s office reopening and scheduling of appointments, see the News Release dated May 29, 2020 at www.lacourt.org and by clicking on the “Safe For You News Center” link for further details.
Q16: How may I obtain a copy of the Probate Investigator Report?
You may contact the probate investigations public phone number to request a copy: Probate Investigations: (213) 830-0855.