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Failing to show up in Colusa County Superior Court could land a person in hot water with Presiding Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson, but sometimes circumstances are beyond what even he can control.
Colusa County began implementing an emergency order, signed by the California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye on Friday, to close court to the public through April 3, with a few exceptions, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Colusa County’s courtrooms were open last week during normal businesses hours, although additional cleaning protocols were implemented in high use areas to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The court issued no arrest warrants last week to individuals who called in that they were unable to appear in court, particularly from areas that already had orders in place to stay at home. He also postponed court for older defendants and those with underlying health issues, at the request of their attorneys.
Beyond individuals whose cases were called, there were only a scattering of spectators last week, and most were able to adhere to the judge’s order to keep a safe six-foot distance. Since then, all Californians have been ordered to stay at home unless for essential business.
As of Friday, the general public has been asked not to attend court proceedings, although certain procedures will continue, including in-custody arraignments, as needed. Felony preliminary hearings, domestic violence restraining orders, juvenile detention, and emergency hearings will be held at 9 AM on Wednesdays unless otherwise scheduled.
A drop box has been made available at 532 Oak Street, in Colusa, for requesting emergency orders, and clerk windows and the Self-Help Center are closed at least until April 3.
“Access to justice is an important right of each citizen,” Thompson said, in a statement. “The decision to limit functions within the court was made based on information provided by federal and state health officials and in an attempt to protect the public and staff from exposure to COVID-19.”
Thomspon said the court is monitoring the spread of the virus and could make additional adjustments to the court calendar, if necessary, depending on the changing circumstances of the public health threat.
As of last week, Thompson was hesitant to postpone cases to even mid-April, as the state anticipates the peak in coronavirus activity from April 21 to May 1, he said.
People who have rescheduled cases before the court should receive a new date in the mail. They should also contact their attorneys for additional information.
For updated information, visit online at Colusa.court.ca.gov ■