Bench Bar Meeting: August 16, 2023

Bench Bar Meeting: August 16, 2023

Rick Gazipura, SCCBA Director at Large and Bench Bar Liaison, submits his report from the Bench Bar meeting.

8/16/2023 Bench Bar Meeting Notes:

Courtroom Upgrades

All of the courtrooms in Santa Cruz are being upgraded. Dept 10 is already done and now the other courtrooms are being upgraded, starting with Dept 3. It will take about 3-4 weeks for each courtroom. New features will include: Zoom audio through court computers, fixed document cameras at attorney tables, HDMI connections at attorney tables, and larger displays at the judges’ and attorneys’ tables.

New Process for Jury Summons

A new process for jury summons will start in September/October. Instead of the larger jury summons envelopes, postcards will be used. A few other counties are doing this and it is more eco-friendly since it uses less paper. Some people will not be accustomed to getting postcards and may inadvertently throw them away. The court will be monitoring the implementation. Santa Cruz has a low failure to appear rate for jury summons. Before the pandemic it was 21%. Post covid it is down to 9.2%.

Civil Trials

Civil trials are going out on a weekly basis. Ther are no issues raised anymore about Covid. Prospective jurors and witnesses can wear masks if they want to. No one is required to wear a mask.

Between now and July 2024, there are 102 civil cases set for trial, approximately 2 per week. There are even some trial dates still available in 2023, though some times in October and November may not be available.

Judicial Mediations

They are continuing to go well. About twelve cases per month are mediated by Judge Volkmann and visiting judges in Dept 10. The percentage rates for resolution are quite high. The are a couple available slots in November, but most are currently being set for December and January.

New Judges

Santa Cruz County is on the radar of the appointment secretary. They are interviewing people to fill the last judicial vacancy. Hopefully that slot will be filled relatively soon (within 60-90 days)

Other announcements

–The law library will be sending out a request for assistance. Law libraries in the state are receiving less funding this year.

–Judge Volkmann expresses his appreciation for the visiting judges in Dept 10

–There is an Appellate Roundtable presentation on August 22nd at 3:30 PM in Dept 6

–CCP 367.75 allows remote appearances in civil cases. If the parties stipulate, witnesses can appear remotely. If the parties don’t stipulate, then the judge will evaluate and consider factors such as age, health, impediments to travel, and how significant that witnesses is to decide whether a witness can appear remotely.

–Trials have routinely had witnesses testify remotely and this hasn’t presented any significant issues or problems.

–The SCCBA announces upcoming MCLEs on August 23rd and October 5th. Also, please save the date October 19th from 5-7 for the SCCBA’s Annual Awards. More details can be found on the bar website