2019 State of the Court

Despite these significant and unprecedented challenges, SBSC rose to meet the challenges and quickly formed positive collaborations with local justice partners. In partnership with the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender, and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, SBSC established a comprehensive video project in Victorville, Joshua Tree, and San Bernardino Courthouses to promote social distancing while maintaining the constitutional rights of those accused and in-custody. While utilizing remote video capabilities, SBSC was able to reduce transports to the courthouses and ensure the safety of those in-custody, judicial officers, staff as well as staff from both the District Attorney and Office of the Public Defender. Similarly, video capabilities were established for juvenile delinquency addressing minors in-custody at the juvenile detention centers. For probate matters, and because of the court closure, certain cases were selected for judicial review and release of final accountings to provide immediate financial relief. SBSC was even able to offer its first virtual Law Day with resources and information offered entirely electronic. Various online activities included a bingo game, word searches, and an online scavenger hunt that celebrated this year’s theme “Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy: the 19th Amendment at 100.” Additional efforts were made by SBSC to ensure the public and attorneys were well informed of the impacts related to COVID-19 and how it relates to their case(s). A designated COVID-19 page was developed and hosted on our public website with the latest information and impacts to court operations. The page also answered numerous questions received from the public on topics including traffic tickets, fines and fees, and calendaring protocols. SBSC also leveraged local organizations, such as the local bar association, justice partners and the media, to ensure our legal community and the public was aware of the impacts on court services. For staff, a remote site was established containing the latest information such as messages from leadership and benefits and pay information during the court closure. As services are incrementally restored, a “new normal” has begun to take shape which includes a slow reopening, and the continuance of face coverings by court staff, judicial officers, attorneys and the public; six feet of social distancing; causal dress attire to allow for frequent washing; additional janitorial cleanings at our court locations and public areas; and impacts to court operations such as for calendaring cases and setting new hearing dates. Sales tax, filing fees and other revenue sources have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with new state revenue forecasts predicting a $54 billion deficit in the fiscal year 2020-21 budget cycle. Although total budget impacts are undetermined at the time of this publication, they will undoubtedly effect the court. In an effort to stay ahead of the potential budget impacts, SBSC has already began to reprioritize projects in order to ensure our budget is in-line with the expected impacts from COVID-19 and that we continue to focus on technology solutions in conjunction with continued safety protocols. As we enter into a new decade with new challenges and uncertainty, SBSC continues its commitment to our community to ensure equal access to justice for all.

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