COVID-19 Court Updates

As a service to our members and the legal community, below is a compilation of court operational updates during the COVID-19 emergency. We strive to provide you with the latest information by updating this page regularly. If you have questions, tips, or suggestions, please email editor@sfbar.org.


Court Operations Updates Summary

last updated: June 26, 12:00 p.m.

Latest update:

San Francisco County Superior Court

COVID-19 updates page, last updated June 1:
https://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/general-info/Information-Regarding-Coronavirus-And-Court-Operations

 

All changes to operations are reflected in the Presiding Judge's General Order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

General Order of the Presiding Judge (April 30, 2020)

General Order of the Presiding Judge (April 13, 2020)

General Order of the Presiding Judge (April 1, 2020)

General Order of the Presiding Judge (March 24, 2020)

General Order of the Presiding Judge (March 19, 2020)

General Order of the Presiding Judge (March 16, 2020)

All orders of the Presiding Judge are authorized by emergency orders or a statewide order by the Chief Justice of California and Chair of the Judicial Council.

Emergency Order of the Chief Justice (May 27, 2020)

Statewide Order of the Chief Justice (April 29, 2020)

Emergency Order of the Chief Justice (April 10, 2020)

Statewide Order of the Chief Justice (March 30, 2020)

Statewide Order of the Chief Justice (March 23, 2020)

Emergency Order of the Chief Justice (March 19, 2020)

Emergency Order of the Chief Justice (March 16, 2020)

The Judicial Council has approved 13 emergency rules due to the immediate and ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.  These 13 emergency rules have been added as Appendix I of the California Rules of Court.

Appendix I of the California Rules of Court

Information about services in specific court divisions:

PUBLIC NOTICE

COURT TO RESTORE SERVICES STARTING JUNE 1

The San Francisco Superior Court is restoring a number of services to its operations on June 1 that were reduced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the court remained open during the pandemic, the need to follow City and County of San Francisco and Department of Public Health guidelines required the court to reduce a large amount of its operations in order to meet social distancing and other health and safety rules.

However, even with the resumption of many court services, health and safety guidelines remain our top priority. Those guidelines apply to our employees and the public and will impact staffing levels and operations. Please note that the following rules apply to everyone coming to any of our courthouses.

  • You must wear a mask or face covering to enter any court facility and during all times you remain inside a courthouse. The court will not provide masks or face coverings.
  • If you are sick, please do not come to court. No one who is sick or is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be permitted to enter any court facility.
  • Please expect longer lines and wait times. The court will follow social distancing requirements inside and outside our facilities and some building access will be limited.
  • Please note and adhere to the posted signs regarding social distancing, face coverings and health and safety guidelines. Please wash your hands frequently. Hand sanitizer will be provided throughout the courthouses.

The court encourages you to visit our website at https://sfsuperiorcourt.org/ to see what services are available before you visit any of our facilities. Beginning on June 1, the following services will be available.

CIVIL COURT

Law and Motion

For motions filed before June 1, 2020, with hearing dates that were vacated by the Court’s General Orders, the moving party should meet and confer with opposing counsel to agree upon a proposed hearing date and, if the motion is not already fully briefed, a schedule for the completion of briefing.  Once the parties have reached agreement, they should send an email to calendar302@sftc.org stating that they have stipulated to a new hearing date and specifying the new date and the date on which the motion originally was scheduled to be heard.  Counsel will be notified by email or telephone if their proposed hearing date has been approved.  If the date requested is unavailable, another date will be assigned. 

For motions filed on or after June 1, 2020, the moving party should confer with all other parties before scheduling and noticing a hearing, and may then e-file and notice the hearing in accordance with Code of Civil Procedure section 1005 or other applicable requirements.  The moving party need not obtain a hearing date or reservation number before filing the motion.

For all law and motion matters, the court will post tentative rulings and follow the procedures set forth in San Francisco County Superior Court Local Rule 8.3 et seq. All hearings will be conducted remotely by CourtCall or by videoconference.  No in-person appearances will be permitted.

Ex parte hearings in law and motion matters are held daily at 11:00 a.m. by CourtCall. No later than two (2) hours prior to the hearing, the moving party must efile the moving papers and attach them to an email to the opposing party/counsel addressed to contestdept302tr@sftc.org with the subject line, “Ex Parte Application.”    

A party presenting an ex parte application in the law and motion department for a temporary restraining order, alternative writ, appointment of a receiver, or similar matter must schedule the hearing with the court by sending an email to calendar302@sftc.org at least 24 hours in advance of the proposed hearing date. 

Discovery Department

Any party who wishes to have a discovery motion heard, whether or not it was previously scheduled for hearing, must confer with all other parties before scheduling and noticing the hearing.  The moving party shall file a new or amended notice of motion setting the matter for hearing in accordance with Code of Civil Procedure section 1005 or other applicable requirements.

Complex Litigation

The Complex Litigation Departments will begin scheduling telephonic conferences. For all pending motions prior to June 1, 2020, please continue to file opposition and reply briefs on the previously agreed upon schedule. If counsel need a continuance on their briefing deadlines, they shall meet and confer to adjust any briefing schedules, and them email the court on their agreed upon deadlines. For all Joint CMC statements for CMCs set before June 1, 2020, counsel should continue to meet and confer to prepare the statement and file these statements on the day their hearing would have occurred. Based on the filed statements, the court will set further dates.

Records

The Records Public Viewing Room is closed. Records requests may be mailed or dropped off in the Court’s Dropbox in the first-floor lobby. All records request must have a self-addressed stamped envelope for returned paperwork. There are no pick-up options for records requests. Please see the Court’s website for additional information and the Court Form to request Records. The Court Clerk’s office will be open with limited hours and service.

Restraining Orders

The Court continues to accept applications for civil harassment restraining orders. The Court Clerk’s office will be open with limited hours and service, but there is a drop box in the first-floor lobby. If restraining order applications are submitted before 10 a.m., a person will receive a call to come pick up the restraining order the same day after 2:30 p.m. If restraining order paperwork is submitted after 10 a.m., a person will receive a call to pick up the restraining order the next business day.

Civil Filings Office

The Civil Filings Office will reopen on June 8, 2020. When services are restored, the office will re- open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Filers are encouraged to electronically file, mail in their filings or use the drop boxes located in the first-floor lobby. If documents are mailed or put in the drop box, the filer must include copies and a self-addressed stamped envelope to receive returned filings. There are no document pick up boxes located at the Civic Center Courthouse.

Civil Courtroom Hearings and Proceedings

Where possible, courtroom proceedings will proceed via CourtCall or by another videoconferencing application.  Please check the Court’s website at https://sfsuperiorcourt.org for the Court’s most recent updates regarding court operations. In addition, please use the Court website’s Online Services to access the most recent updates in your case.

Small Claims Filings and Hearings

The Court Clerk’s office will reopen on June 8, 2020. When services are restored, the office will re- open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Small Claims filings may be submitted by mail or dropped off in the first-floor lobby drop box. Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope and copies for returned filings.

All Small Claims hearings have currently been continued and notices have been mailed with future court hearing dates. To see the latest updates to your previously filed case, please access the court’s website online services at https://sfsuperiorcourt.org.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In an effort to limit the number of people entering the courthouse, mediations will be conducted remotely via telephone or videoconference until further notice. See the ADR page on the court’s website for more information about the program and the procedure for requesting a mediation: https://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/divisions/civil/dispute-resolution.

General Civil Cases (not including Unlawful Detainers): Mandatory settlement conferences (MSCs) conducted by volunteer settlement conference officers will resume being scheduled in advance of the trial date. The Court will attempt to schedule MSCs in as many cases as possible but does not have the capacity to set MSCs in all cases. In an effort to limit the number of people entering the courthouse, MSCs will be conducted remotely via telephone or videoconference until further notice. See Local Rule 5.0 for more information about MSCs.

General Civil Cases (not including Unlawful Detainers): The Voluntary Settlement Conference (VSC) program will continue to operate with some changes. The Court has civil trial judges available to conduct remote settlement conferences. Counsel (and self-represented litigants) should confer with each other and with their clients in advance of trial call and be prepared to advise the Presiding Judge at trial call whether all parties agree to conduct a VSC. Only cases where all parties agree will be considered. The Presiding Judge will select cases based upon availability and will assign the settlement conference judge, date and time for the settlement conference. Settlement conferences will be conducted on Friday mornings the week of trial call, unless notified otherwise.  The parties must coordinate the videoconferencing platform. The settlement conference may be conducted telephonically rather than via videoconference at the settlement judge’s discretion.

PROBATE COURT

The Probate Department has resumed full operations with appropriate modifications.  

Modified filing rules will be in place.  In trust and estate matters, counsel and self-represented parties who have opted in to e-filing must e-file all papers; courtesy copies must be promptly delivered by mail or in person by depositing the papers in the secure drop box outside Room 103. Self-represented parties in trust and estate matters who have not opted in to e-filing must submit their papers for filing by mail or in person by depositing the papers in the secure drop box outside Room 103 and must include additional copies to allow the clerk to route courtesy copies to Room 202.  Counsel and self-represented parties in conservatorship and guardianship proceedings must submit any papers for filing by mail or in person by depositing the papers in the secure drop box outside Room 103 and must include additional copies to allow the clerk to route courtesy copies to Room 202.  

Modified hearing rules will also be in place.  Most hearings will be conducted by CourtCall or, where available, video. Certain hearings may be conducted in person, but parties are strongly encouraged to appear through CourtCall whenever possible. Petitioning and moving parties must inform all parties entitled to notice of the Probate Department’s remote hearing procedures.  

The Department will resume holding ex parte calendars on Mondays through Fridays at 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Drop-off ex parte petitions will be considered on a rolling basis. The Department will resume scheduling Law & Motion matters for hearing on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., and Fridays at 9:00 a.m. Any party seeking to set a new motion on the Probate Law & Motion calendar may obtain a hearing date and time by sending an email to probmotiondate@sftc.org.  The Department will resume trust and estate calendars on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m.  The Department will resume Guardianship calendars on Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m. and probate conservatorship calendars on Thursdays at 9:00 a.m.  

All trust, estate, guardianship, and probate conservatorship hearings calendared for a date between March 18, 2020 and June 19, 2020, inclusive, were continued for exactly twelve weeks, unless the new date fell on a holiday, in which case the hearing was continued to the subsequent appropriate calendar (e.g., if the presumptive new date fell on Monday, September 7, 2020, the hearing was continued to the next Monday, September 14, 2020).  The new dates for hearings are available on the court’s electronic register of actions.  New petitions will be given hearing dates consistent with calendar availability.  LPS and mental health calendars will continue, with in person and remote appearances, as appropriate.  

For more information see the current General Order of the Probate and Mental health Division, which is available on the court’s website at https://sfsuperiorcourt.org/divisions/probate.

UNIFIED FAMILY COURT

Beginning June 8, 2020, the Clerks’ Offices are open Monday through Friday, (except on holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., pending further notice.

Drop boxes for Unified Family Court (UFC) are placed outside of each clerk’s office in rooms 103, 402 and 101, which can be accessed and utilized Monday through Friday (except on holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., to avoid waiting in line.  The clerks’ offices are located at:

  • United Family Court Clerk’s Office (includes Family Law, Juvenile Dependency and Child Support filings, 400 McAllister Street, Room 402.
  • Juvenile Justice Center Clerk’s Office, 375 Woodside Avenue, Room 101.

For general updated information related to the Unified Family Court operations, please go to https://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/divisions/ufc. Please be advised that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your case may proceed telephonically, by videoconferencing or by personal appearance in the courtroom. If you personally appear for your case, all UFC courtrooms will follow social distancing guidelines and you will be required to wear a mask or face covering.

Departments 403/404 will continue to post tentative rulings scheduling mediations and hearing dates pursuant to San Francisco County Superior Court Local Rule 11.7(D)(3) and

California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1308(a)(1). Please go to https://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/divisions/ufc/tentative-rulings for tentative ruling instructions. All hearings will be conducted telephonically or by video conferencing. In person appearances will be permitted at the discretion of the judicial officer.

Department 405 trials and judicial settlement conferences will be rescheduled following a trial setting conference. All trials will be conducted telephonically or by video conferencing. In person appearances will be permitted at the discretion of the judicial officer.

Departments 406/425 hearings will be conducted telephonically or by video conferencing. In person appearances will be permitted at the discretion of the judicial officer.

Department 3/4 at the Juvenile Justice Center will be conducted telephonically or by video conferencing. In person appearances will be permitted at the discretion of the judicial officer.

Department 416 hearings will be conducted telephonically.

Courtroom Hours

  • 403/404 Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • 405 Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • 406/425 Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • 416 Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Dept. 3/4 Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

CRIMINAL COURT

The Criminal Office will reopen on June 8, 2020.  When services are restored, the office will re- open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Phone service is currently open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., until further notice. Please call (415) 551-0651 and ask to speak to a clerk.

It is highly recommended that you phone the criminal office as many services are now available over the phone, online or by mail. You may experience long wait times to enter the Hall of Justice and receive in-person service at the windows. The drop box remains available outside of room 101.

Traffic

The Traffic Office will reopen on June 8, 2020.  When services are restored, the offices will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  Phone service is currently open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., until further notice.  Please call (415) 551-8550 and ask to speak to a clerk.

It is highly recommended that you phone the traffic office as many services are now available over the phone, online or by mail. You may experience long waits in to enter the Hall of Justice and to receive in-person service at the windows The drop box remains available outside of room 145.

Court Collections

The Court Collections Office will reopen on June 8, 2020.  When services are restored, the offices will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  Phone service is currently open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., until further notice.  Please call (415) 551-0670 and ask to speak to a clerk.

To make a payment on delinquent court-ordered debt, contact Alliance One at (877) 541-8420 or at WWW.PAYAOI.COM

It is highly recommended that you phone the court collection unit as many services are now available over the phone, online or by mail. You may experience long wait times to enter the Hall of Justice and to receive in-person service at the windows. The drop box remains available outside of room 101.

JURY SERVICE

Our Court is committed to providing a healthy and safe environment, and will take the following steps to adhere to all public safety and social distancing guidelines.  Social distancing guidelines will be followed and smaller number of prospective jurors will be instructed to report on any given day. Those prospective jurors who are not feeling well or who have COVID-19 symptoms, must stay home and should contact Jury Services Office at (415) 551-3608 for further reporting instructions. Face masks are required to enter the Courthouse and shall be worn at all times when inside any courthouse. The Sheriff’s Department will monitor the security lines and the Jury Assembly Room to ensure that all prospective jurors are engaging in social distancing. The Court will provide a clean and sanitized Jury Assembly Room, as well as all courtrooms to be used for trials. The Court will work in conjunction with the San Francisco Department of Health to ensure the safety of all prospective jurors.

ACCESS CENTER

Self-represented litigants may visit the ACCESS CENTER webpage at https://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/self-help for information on telephone assistance, online survey inquiries, and for legal informational materials in the self-help library.  These services are currently available and do not require a visit to the courthouse.

Beginning June 2, 2020, the ACCESS Center will provide limited in-person services for triage, brief information and referrals.  Window assistance will be available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Civic Center Courthouse in Room 103, Windows 1 and 3.  Brief triage services are limited to 40 tickets each Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning. Individuals must complete an in-person intake in order to receive a ticket to be seen on a first come, first served basis. 

All other substantive and procedural information and assistance will be provided off-site by telephone and online inquiries only

San Francisco Immigration Court

Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Operational Updates during COVID-19 are posted here:
https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic 

As previously announced, certain immigration courts have resumed non-detained hearings. Hearings in non-detained cases at courts without an announced date are postponed through, and including, July 10, 2020. For case specific information, please have the relevant alien registration number and call 800-898-7180 or visit the Automated Case Information portal.  

Information Regarding Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)

DHS and DOJ are postponing both MPP hearings and in-person document service through, and including, July 17, 2020. This will alleviate the need for travel within Mexico to a U.S. port of entry while pandemic conditions in Mexico remain severe. Resumption of hearings is anticipated on July 20, 2020, so long as public health and safety indicators support hearing reinstatement at that time.

When conditions are deemed safe, the Departments will provide notice fifteen (15) days prior to resumption with additional, location-specific information. Individuals should continue to check on case status in English and Spanish by calling the Automated Case Information Hotline at 1-800-898-7180 or visiting the EOIR Automated Case Information portal.

Filings

EOIR has established temporary email accounts for the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the immigration courts nationwide to facilitate electronic filing for all parties while the rollout of the EOIR Courts & Appeals System (ECAS) is delayed due to COVID-19. Those who have already opted-in to ECAS should continue to use ECAS where it is available. Others who wish file by email may do so as instructed on the "Filing by Email - Immigration Courts" page, "Filing by Email - Board of Immigration Appeals," and "Filing by Email - Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer" pages, each of which outlines requirements that apply to filing by email and the email address for each immigration court and the BIA. Please also check any court-issued standing orders, for court-specific instructions. Please note EOIR cannot provide technical support at this time. If you have questions, please contact the EOIR Office of Policy, Communications and Legislative Affairs Division at PAO.EOIR@usdoj.gov

Judicial Council of California

California Courts news related to COVID-19, updated June 11:
https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/coronavirus-updates

Summary of Court Emergency Orders (June 23):
https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/court-emergency-orders-6794321

Judicial Council, Chief Justice Consider Ending Some Emergency Measures as California and Courts Expand Reopening (June 8): https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/judicial-council-chief-justice-consider-ending-some-emergency-measures-as-california-and-courts-expand-reopening

Council Working Group Releases Pandemic Recovery Resource Guide for Courts (June 3):
https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/council-working-group-releases-pandemic-recovery-resource-guide-for-courts

Judicial Council Revises Emergency Rule on Statutes of Limitations in Civil Cases
(May 29): https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/judicial-council-revises-emergency-rule-on-civil-filing-deadlines

Judicial Council Launches Working Group to Aid Courts in Pandemic Recovery (May 12):
https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/judicial-council-launches-working-group-to-aid-courts-in-pandemic-recovery

Judicial Branch Emergency Actions: Criminal, Civil and Juvenile Court (April 29):
https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/judicial-branch-emergency-actions-criminal-civil-and-juvenile-justice

California Chief Justice Extends Criminal Trial Deadlines (April 29):
https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/california-chief-justice-extends-criminal-trial-deadlines

California Supreme Court Orders Bar Exam Delayed, Administered Online (April 27):
https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/california-supreme-court-orders-bar-exam-delayed-administered-online

Council Makes It Easier for Parties to Request Changes to Support Orders Amid Pandemic (April 20):
https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/council-makes-it-easier-for-parties-to-request-changes-to-support-orders-amid-pandemic

Judicial Council Mandates Electronic Service of Documents in Most Civil Cases (April 17):
https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/judicial-council-mandates-electronic-service-of-documents-in-most-civil-cases

Judicial Branch Emergency Actions: Criminal, Civil and Juvenile Court (April 10):
https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/judicial-branch-emergency-actions-criminal-civil-and-juvenile-justice

Judicial Council adopts 11 temporary emergency rules to lower jail population, suspend evictions and foreclosures (April 6):
https://jcc.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=8234474&GUID=79611543-6A40-465C-8B8B-D324F5CAE349

Statewide Order of the Chief Justice (March 30):
https://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/COVID-19/CJ%20Statewide%20Order%20-%20COVID-19%2020%2003%2030.pdf?1585938233568

California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District

Updates are posted here, last updated June 8: https://www.courts.ca.gov/1dca.htm

Because of the emergency due to the COVID-19 virus, and in cooperation with the orders of various Bay Area county departments of public health, the court is operating remotely, with few staff at the courthouse. The court will continue to receive correspondence and filings both via paper and electronically. All paper filings, including emergency writs, may be made by dropping them in the secure drop box at the entrance to our clerk’s office at 350 McAllister Street in San Francisco. Access to the court by phone will be limited.

The court has obtained two Emergency Orders (Emergency Order 1PDF file type icon / Emergency Order 2PDF file type icon) from the chair of the Judicial Council, permitting it to issue orders extending the time to do any act required or permitted under the California Rules of Court, and has, by Orders dated April 9PDF file type icon and April 15PDF file type icon, done so.

Pursuant to Misc. Order 2020-2PDF file type icon, all in person oral argument sessions in the Court of Appeal, First District, are suspended. Counsel who choose to present oral argument must do so telephonically through June 17, 2020, and via video conference thereafter.

California Supreme Court

Updates are posted here (last updated June 4):
https://www.courts.ca.gov/supremecourt.htm

June 2 update: The Ronald M. George State Office Complex buildings are closed, therefore the Supreme Court of California Clerk’s Office will be closed to in-person filings and visits on Tuesday, June 2, 2020—eFiling remains available on the court’s website. The court will continue to monitor the local situation and review recommendations from the city administration and the California Highway Patrol.

May 19 update: Supreme Court Rolls Out Oral Argument by Videoconference

Supreme Court Oral Argument Calendar for June 2 and 3, 2020 (May 13, 2020)

The Supreme Court of California has posted the calendar for the hearing at its courtroom in the Ronald M. George State Office Complex, Earl Warren Building, 350 McAllister Street, Fourth Floor, San Francisco, California, on June 2 and 3, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and related public health directives from state and local authorities, the procedures specified by Administrative Orders 2020-3-13 (Mar. 16, 2020) and 2020-03-27 (March 27, 2020) apply. Counsel will appear remotely and courtroom seating for the press will be strictly limited to achieve appropriate distancing. The public will continue to have access to argument via live-streaming on the judicial branch website:  https://www.courts.ca.gov/.

Supreme Court Oral Argument Calendar for May 19 and 20, 2020PDF file type icon (April 29, 2020)


In response to the coronavirus situation, the court has adopted expanded e-filing rules for litigants, extended the deadlines under the California Rules of Court for an additional 30 days for all Supreme Court proceedings under an amended Administrative Order (April 10), and until further notice will be conducting oral argument from the San Francisco Supreme Court Headquarters building with counsel appearing through teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or similar methods of remote participation. 

The court has also implemented additional social distancing and density controls for oral argument.

Supreme Court Oral Argument Calendar for May 5 (Apr 15, 2020)
The Supreme Court of California has posted the calendar for the hearing at its courtroom in the Ronald M. George State Office Complex, Earl Warren Building, 350 McAllister Street, Fourth Floor, San Francisco, California, on May 5, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and related public health directives from state and local authorities, the procedures specified by Administrative Orders 2020-3-13 (Mar. 16, 2020) and 2020-03-27 (March 27, 2020) apply. Counsel will appear remotely and courtroom seating for the press will be strictly limited to achieve appropriate distancing. The public will continue to have access to argument via live-streaming on the judicial branch website: https://www.courts.ca.gov/.

U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

If you are currently representing yourself in a civil case in the Northern District of California or plan to do so, please consider contacting the Federal Pro Bono Project for free limited scope legal assistance. To make an appointment, please call (415) 782-8982 or email fedpro@sfbar.org.

COVID-19 updates are posted at (last updated June 1): https://www.cand.uscourts.gov/general-notices/

Safety Protocols for Northern District of California Courthouses (Effective June 1, 2020)

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, the courthouses of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California have instituted the following safety protocols.  These protocols will remain in effect until further notice.

For the San Francisco Courthouse: all court staff or persons who are authorized to visit a courtroom or the Jury Office (Floors 15, 16, 17, 18, or 19) must enter through the Turk Street entrance.

For all courthouse locations (San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Eureka/McKinleyville), the following protocols apply:

Before leaving home to visit the courthouse

    • Courthouse visitors are required to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms by reviewing the pre-screening questionnaire available on the court’s website at uscourts.gov/covid19screening. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions, please follow the instructions on the form.
    • Visitors will not be screened by building security for COVID-19 symptoms.

Entering the building and public spaces

  • Only court staff, jurors, potential jurors, and persons authorized by a judge to participate in or observe a court proceeding will be permitted to enter courthouse property. Members of the press and public may access proceedings by teleconference or videoconference only.
  • All visitors (employees and non-employees) are required to wear a face covering to enter the building. Surgical or N95 masks are acceptable but not required; a cloth face covering (such as a bandana) that covers both the nose and mouth is acceptable.
  • Entrances, lobbies, and all public spaces within courthouse buildings will have location markers to ensure social distancing. All visitors are required to keep a minimum distance of six feet from other visitors (other than members of the same household).
  • Elevators will have a reduced occupancy limit to ensure social distancing. Visitors must comply with all posted social distancing and maximum occupancy requirements.

Entering courtrooms

  • Courtroom seating will be marked to ensure social distancing requirements.
  • Non-jury proceedings will be limited to a total of ten attendees (including the judge, court staff, attorneys, parties, witnesses, and visitors authorized by the judge).
  • Jury trial proceedings will have a reduced maximum capacity to ensure social distancing.
  • Proceedings will be staggered at different times. Visitors waiting for a proceeding are required to remain in the hallway or attorney lounge while observing social distancing requirements (i.e., a minimum of six feet between all persons who are not members of the same household).
  • Face coverings are required in the hallways outside courtrooms. Once visitors are authorized by court staff to enter a courtroom, visitors must follow the assigned judge’s instructions regarding face coverings.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Video program hosted by California Lawyers’ Association about remote oral arguments in the Ninth Circuit during COVID-19 (April 22)

COVID-19 Notice, as of March 26:
http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/general/2020/03/16/COVID-19%20Notice.pdf

Order Regarding Building Closures, as of March 16:
http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/general/2020/03/16/building_closure_order.pdf

Oral Arguments
Arguments currently scheduled in March, April, and May 2020 are being evaluated
one at a time and orders will issue in those cases giving direction to the parties.
Panels may exercise their discretion under the rules to submit cases without
argument; to postpone argument to a later date; or to hold argument via telephone
or video. When argument is held, it will be live streamed to facilitate public
access.

Access to the Courthouses
Until further notice, our courthouses are closed to the public during non-court
weeks. Attorneys and parties who have access to CM/ECF are strongly encouraged
to use it for everything, including new petitions for review and original
proceedings. If unrepresented litigants have access to email, they are encouraged
to submit their filings, including petitions for review and all other pleadings, as
PDF attachments, directly to the Court at this email address:
prose_pleadings@ca9.uscourts.gov. We also have a drop box (for petitions for
review and original proceedings) in the lobby of the Browning Courthouse at 95
Seventh Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, and the Court continues to receive
filings sent via U.S. Mail or commercial delivery services

Court Hours & Staffing
Because we have limited staff available to answer phone calls, we are also
accepting queries sent by email to: questions@ca9.uscourts.gov. We will do our
best to prioritize incoming filings and questions, but there might be some delay in
responding.

Emergency Applications
A lawyer or litigant who seeks an emergency stay or relief that requires immediate
attention should file a request per the instructions set out in the rules, by contacting
the court at emergency@ca9.uscourts.gov or (415) 355-8020.

U.S. Bankruptcy Courts

The latest information on federal courts is compiled here:
https://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/court-website-links/court-orders-and-updates-during-covid19-pandemic#bankruptcy

For the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of California, updates are posted here (last updated May 28):
http://www.canb.uscourts.gov/content/page/court-operations-during-covid-19-outbreak

IRS Tax Court

COVID-19 updates are posted at: https://www.ustaxcourt.gov/

The United States Tax Court building remains closed to visitors and all trial sessions through July 3, 2020 are canceled. To accommodate continuing uncertainties relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, and until further notice, Court proceedings will be conducted remotely. See the May 29, 2020 Press Release. See also the March 23 Press Release (canceling May 4–July 3 trial sessions), March 18 Press Release (closing the Tax Court building), March 13 Press Release (canceling April 6-May 1 trial sessions), and March 11 Press Release (canceling March 16–April 3 trial sessions).

Mail delivery will resume on July 10, 2020. See the Press Release.

Taxpayers can continue to comply with statutory deadlines for filing petitions or notices of appeal by timely mailing a petition or notice of appeal to the Court. Timeliness of mailing of the petition or notice of appeal is determined by the United States Postal Service’s postmark or the delivery certificate of a designated private delivery service.

Returned Mail: Mail sent by standard delivery of the United States Postal Service has been held during the Tax Court building’s closure. If, however, you previously sent a document to the Court and it was returned to you, resend the document to the Court as soon as possible after July 10, 2020. Please include with your resubmission a copy of the original envelope or container in which the document was first sent. You should retain a copy of any document sent to the Court.

Filing Deadlines: On April 9, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance (Notice 2020-23) that extends the deadline to file a Tax Court petition and a notice of appeal from a Tax Court decision. If the statutory deadline for filing a petition or notice of appeal falls on or after April 1, 2020 and before July 15, 2020, the filing deadline is now extended to July 15, 2020.

Court Updates from Around the Bay

Contra Costa County Superior Court has issued new Emergency Rules due to the COVID-19 Court closure that affect all cases and will likely issue more Emergency Rules in the weeks to come. All Emergency Rules are located on the Court's Local Rules Page.

Alameda County Superior Court has issued a Press Release announcing the adoption of emergency “zero bail” schedule and additional amendments to emergency Local Rules.


COVID-19 Resources for Lawyers

How to Run Your Law Firm Remotely During COVID-19 (Webinar recap and presentation)

Free Fastcase Remote Access, available from the San Francisco Law Library

COVID-19 Guides and Resources, from the San Francisco Law Library

More educational resources