In a 5-4 per curiam opinion issued late Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that California’s restrictions on private gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely unconstitutional and should be enjoined, overturning the Ninth Circuit’s finding to the contrary at the end of last month. “This is the fifth time the Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise,” the high court’s majority noted in the 6-page opinion. The case arises from a lawsuit brought by a pastor, a congressional candidate, and a group of business owners arguing that California’s restrictions on private…
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on Tuesday named members to an ad hoc working group that will determine which of the practices California courts adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic should remain in place after the pandemic is over. “At the beginning of the pandemic, in what we now call Phase 1, the Judicial Council used emergency powers given to us by the Governor to help court users and our court family to be safe while keeping our doors open, both virtually and physically,” Cantil-Sakauye said in a statement. “Phase 2 of pandemic planning is reflected in…
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill expanding paid sick leave protections through Sept. 30 of this year for workers who contract COVID-19 or must care for family members who contract the virus. SB 95, authored by State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), entitles covered employees to up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave if they are unable to work or telework for a reason related to COVID-19. The protections are retroactive to sick leave taken beginning Jan. 1, 2021. “Paid sick leave gives workers the time they need to care for themselves and loved ones…
Claiming the court prioritizes non-essential operations over “community safety and human life,” five legal aid organizations on Tuesday sued Los Angeles County Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile for holding certain hearings in person during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the organizations claim that by permitting and sometimes mandating in-person appearances for unlawful detainer and traffic hearings, the presiding judge has put attorneys and litigants at high risk of contracting COVID-19 from non-emergency courtroom proceedings — especially as public health experts call Los Angeles “the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.” The…
The U.S. Supreme Court in a late 6-3 ruling on Friday allowed indoor worship services to resume in California, enjoining the total prohibition on those services in counties within the most restrictive tier of the state’s COVID-19 response blueprint. The blueprint, enacted on Aug. 28, created a four-tier system for California counties, based on how rampant the virus is in a given county. Under Tier 1, indoor worship services are prohibited completely. Under Tier 2, they’re capped at the lesser of 25% capacity or 100 attendees, and at the lesser of 50% capacity or 200 attendees under Tier 3. In…
The California Legislature is considering a bill that, if passed, would make the state’s liquor laws more flexible, with the aim of helping restaurants more nimbly adapt to outdoor dining as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on. SB 314, introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would permanently authorize restaurant parklets and allow cities to create open-container zones. The bill would also make it legal for bars and restaurants to share spaces with other businesses, allowing them to save money on rent and making it easier for pop-up restaurants to establish themselves. “Bars & restaurants are struggling,” Weiner wrote in…
Ski lodge owners in the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area are suing Gov. Gavin Newsom to prevent him and other government officials from enforcing a raft of COVID-19-related orders. The complaint, filed in the Eastern District, alleges that the measures violate their constitutional rights. The suit was filed by short-term lodging owners Cindy and Timothy Abshire and Alan and Monica Butts, along with lodging manager Nomadness Corp. and the Mammoth Lakes Business Coalition. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was also named in the suit, along with state and Mono County public health officers and Mammoth Lakes town officials, alleging they have…
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill that will extend the state’s moratorium on evictions through June 30 of this year, aiming to protect Californians facing ongoing economic hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. SB 91 extends a pause on evictions for tenants who declare under penalty of perjury an inability to pay all or part of their rent due to a COVID-related reason. Previously those protections were set to expire on Feb. 1 under AB 3088, which the governor signed last year. “Once again, California is leading the way by enacting the strongest eviction…
The Ninth Circuit granted two Southern California churches’ requests for injunctions of the state’s fixed attendance caps on indoor worship services in rulings issued Friday and Monday, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent directive for analyzing the constitutionality of restrictions on those services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court left in place other state restrictions on religious gatherings, including a total prohibition on indoor worship services under the most restrictive tier of California’s COVID-19 response and other limitations on attendance that are tied to a percentage of a facility’s fire-code capacity. Since the pandemic arrived in California,…
The Judicial Council on Friday unanimously approved a plan to grant $25 million to trial courts in order to address court cases delayed due to the pandemic. The allocation of funds will be based on each court’s unresolved caseload during the pandemic period compared to the same period in 2019. The money comes from the remainder of $50 million included in the 2020 Budget Act. Trial courts will also be required to report to the judicial panel on a quarterly basis, giving updates on their progress in reducing their pandemic-related backlogs as well as a report on how they spend…