Updates: Court, Administrative Office, and Public Agency Closures and Modified Schedules to Protect Public Health

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Updated March 26, 2020 @ 9:36am

Courts and administrative offices in multiple jurisdictions where BayLegal works and our clients live are closing, modifying schedules, and/or issuing guidances and new public safety rules in order to safeguard public health in light of the COVID-19 emergency.

URGENT ALERT: For important information on how to avoid a new Social Security Benefit Suspension Scam, see the item for the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the state and federal agency section, below.

 


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  • Alameda County
    • The Alameda County Superior Court is closed to the public from March 17, 2020 through April 7, 2020 with exceptions for TROs, emergency family law, and emergency probate filings
      • In a March 16, 2020 press release, the court announced that it would proactively close all courthouses effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, and extending at least through April 7, 2020. The most recent information on changes to Alameda County Superior Court schedules and procedures in response to COVID-19 can be found on this page. If you have additional questions about the Court’s response to COVID-19, please email the Court at covid19questions@alameda.courts.ca.gov.
    • The Alameda County Law Library will be closed to the public in effect through Monday, April 6th, but may be extended. Read the ACLL press release here.
    • Alameda County Social Services Agency (ACSSA) has issued the following statement on service changes to help prevention efforts:
      • As part of an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Alameda County Social Services Agency is encouraging clients who are receiving or wish to apply for Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKs, Welfare-to-Work, Refugee Cash Assistance, and General Assistance to use the telephone, mail, and online services that are currently available. Applications, documents, and reports for most programs can be submitted at www.BenefitsCalWIN.org and telephone services are available at 1-888-999-4772 or 510-263-2420. For additional online, mail, and telephone options please see the attached flyers.
  • Contra Costa County
    • The Contra Costa County Superior Court will be closed at all locations for approximately 2 weeks beginning March 16, 2020. Visit the Court’s website for the most recent updates.
  • Napa County
    • Napa County Superior Court is closed to the public for anything other than time sensitive or emergency matters from Wednesday, March 18, through  Friday April 10, 2020.
  • San Francisco County
    • San Francisco County Superior Court is closed except for essential operation. Updates can be found at this page.
    • The USCIS San Francisco Asylum Office issued the following update on its policies and procedures on March 15, 2020. (For updates on USCIS offices system-wide, see below under “Multi-County / Regionwide / Local and regional offices of state and federal agencies”):
      1. The San Francisco Asylum Office is still conducting interviews at this time. However, it is uncertain how long they will continue to do so. The San Francisco Asylum Office has confirmed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is the main Federal tenant on the 75 Hawthorne Street building, is considering closing down the building to visitors, which would include the Asylum Office. Please look out for additional updates regarding potential asylum office closures.
      2. Some future asylum interviews were already cancelled when the San Francisco Asylum Office believed the EPA was planning to close the building on March 19, for a two-week period. All cancelled cases will be rescheduled in April, unless again, EPA decides to close the building.
      3. Reschedules: The Asylum Division, as a whole, is now liberally granting reschedules for all vulnerable groups, including attorneys, applicants, or interpreters who are elderly or have at-risk health status. The asylum clock will not be stopped for such reschedules. You can email a request to sfasylumreschedulerequests@uscis.dhs.gov.
      4. Due to the sudden in-person filing window closure, any late-arriving documents for asylum interviews the week of March 23, 2020 will be accepted as timely if the interviews continue as currently scheduled.
  • San Mateo County
    • San Mateo County Superior Court will remain in operation, but with limited services. The court’s March 17, 2020 emergency order authorizing changes to operations, extensions for various filings and processes, etc., can be found on its website here.
  • Santa Clara County
    • Santa Clara County Superior Court is closed to the public except for essential services. Access inside the courthouse is limited only to those required to appear in person for a hearing (parties, attorneys, and subpoenaed witnesses). Check the Santa Clara County Superior Court’s website, for further updates.
  • Multi-county / regionwide / state and federal agencies
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California: Please be advised that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has consolidated and relocated all essential court proceedings to the San Francisco Courthouse at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, effective March 26, 2020 until April 7, 2020.
      • The San Jose, Oakland, and Eureka-McKinleyville courthouses are entirely closed to the general public from Thursday, March 26, 2020 until April 7, 2020.
      • Please see General Order 73, Temporary Restrictions on Courthouse Access due to COVID-19 Public Health Emergency; Consolidation and Relocation of All Essential Operations to the San Francisco Courthouse, amended March 25, 2020.
      • Please see the court’s public website for more information.
    • California superior courts: California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye just issued a statewide order suspending all jury trials in California’s superior courts for 60 days and allowing courts to immediately adopt new rules to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her order includes the following directives:
      • All jury trials are suspended and continued for 60 days. Courts may conduct a trial at an earlier date upon finding of good cause shown or through use of remote technology when appropriate.
      • Time periods to begin criminal and civil trials is extended for 60 days, though courts may conduct trials earlier upon finding of good cause or through remote technology when appropriate.
      • Superior courts are authorized to adopt any proposed rules or rule amendment that is intended to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to take effect immediately, without advance circulation for 45 days of public comment. A court adopting any such rule change must immediately distribute the new or amended rule, and no litigant’s substantive rights shall be prejudiced for failing to comply with the requirements of a new or amended rule until at least 20 days after the rule change has been distributed.
      • See the full order here.

 

    • Social Security Administration (SSA): See the SSA coronavirus update page.
      • March  20, 2020 advisory: SSA Inspector General Warns Public About New Social Security Benefit Suspension Scam. The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures:
        • Social Security will never: threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee; promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment; require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card; demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem; or send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.”
        • Read the full advisory.
      • Per this press release issued March 16, 2020, SSA will offer only phone service at its local offices beginning March 17, 2020.
      • Social Security hearings will be either rescheduled or conducted by phone. For a list of Hearings Offices and contact information, please consult SSA’s Hearing Office Locator page.
    • Updates on immigration office closures, changes in schedules and procedures, enforcement changes, and other issues are updated on our page, Immigration Measures in Response to COVID-19.