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District Attorney’s Office, Courts Adapt to ‘Changing World’

MADERA — This past week marked a sign-of-the-times milestone for the Madera County District Attorney’s office — on Thursday (April 2) a prosecutor from the DA’s office made the department’s first online court appearance.

Under “normal” circumstances, deputy district attorneys must physically go to court to handle cases. However, during this unprecedented pandemic, the Madera County Superior Court is taking steps to limit the exposure and spread of COVID-19. This includes newly authorized “telecommunication” court appearances in some criminal cases.

District Attorney Sally Moreno referred to the new procedure as “telecourt.”

“Our office is committed to adapting to the changing world,” Moreno said. “We will continue to seek justice and will comply with any steps the courthouse takes to ensure the safety of our community.”

Late last month, Fresno County shut down its courthouse to all but emergency operations. While the Madera County Superior Courthouse still remains open, the facility is operating under dramatically scaled back guidelines prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of now, all civil trials, with the exception of unlawful detainer trials, scheduled between March 17 and April 3 have been continued on a rolling basis for eight weeks from the originally scheduled trial date.

All case management conferences and mandatory settlement conferences scheduled between March 17 and April 3 were also continued on a rolling basis for eight weeks from their previously scheduled date.

One civil department at the Superior Courthouse remains open to hear all unlawful detainer matters, requests for emergency ex parte temporary restraining orders, emergency ex parte probate matters and all statutorily mandated hearings.

All misdemeanor and felony jury trials in which a time waiver has been entered and the defendant is out of custody scheduled between March 17 and April 3 have been continued on a rolling basis for eight weeks.

 

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