Update on Status of California State Court Emergency Rules

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Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Emergency Rules for filings, service, and statutes of limitation remain in effect in California state courts. While “temporary” rules first went into effect on April 6, 2020, many remain in place more than 18 months later. Some of the rules, though, have since been amended, repealed, or superseded by new legislation.
 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Emergency Rules for filings, service, and statutes of limitation remain in effect in California state courts. While “temporary” rules first went into effect on April 6, 2020, many remain in place more than 18 months later. Some of the rules, though, have since been amended, repealed, or superseded by new legislation.

To sustain essential court services, the Judicial Council adopted Emergency Rules to the California Rules of Court at the beginning of the pandemic. The Emergency Rules are to remain in effect until 90 days after the Governor declares the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, or when they are revoked by the Judicial Council. Neither scenario has occurred to date. 

The initial rules, adopted in April 2020, were discussed in our prior alerts available here and here. The latest version of the Emergency Rules can be found here. The five rules that are particularly important for businesses and individuals with pending cases or potential legal claims are summarized below.  

Emergency Rule No. 3: Use of technology for remote appearances (NO CHANGES)

Courts continue to have the option of requiring that judicial proceedings and court operations be conducted remotely. This includes but is not limited to: (1) the use of video, audio, and telephonic means for remote appearances; (2) the electronic exchange and authentication of documentary evidence; (3) e-filing and e-service; and (4) the use of remote reporting and electronic recording for official records of an action or proceeding. 

Emergency Rule No. 9: Toll the statutes of limitations for civil causes of action (AMENDED)

The Judicial Council previously tolled statutes of limitations in all civil actions until 90 days following the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency. The updated version of Rule 9 re-imposes time limits – albeit relaxed – within which civil actions can be brought. Statutes of limitations that exceed 180 days are tolled between April 6, 2020, and October 1, 2020. Statutes of limitations that are shorter than 180 days are tolled only between April 6, 2020, and August 3, 2020.

All litigants should carefully consider the applicable statute(s) of limitation in their case and determine any new deadlines under the Emergency Rules. 

Emergency Rule No. 10: Extensions of time in which to bring a civil action to trial (NO CHANGES)

For all civil actions filed on or before April 6, 2020, the time in which to bring the action to trial is extended by six months beyond the normal five-year limit. And for all civil actions filed on or before April 6, 2020, where a new trial is granted, the time to bring the action to trial again is extended by six months beyond the normal three-year limit. 

Emergency Rule No. 11: Depositions through remote electronic means (REPEALED (superseded by new legislation))

The Emergency Rule allowing all deponents to appear remotely has been repealed and was superseded by Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.210(a) on September 18, 2020.

The new law allows any deponent, deposing party, and party or attorney of record to participate in depositions remotely. Notably, party deponents can now choose to appear remotely – an option unavailable to them before. 

The newly codified legislation can be found here

Emergency Rule No. 12: Electronic service (REPEALED (superseded by new legislation))

The Emergency Rule requiring electronic service of notices and documents in civil actions has been repealed and superseded by Code of Civil Procedure section 1010.6(a) on September 18, 2020.

The new law requires all represented parties, upon the request of another party in an action, to both accept and provide electronic service of documents. This provision applies to cases filed on or after January 1, 2019.

The newly codified legislation can be found here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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