The presiding judge of the superior court has announced that beginning on Monday, March 16, all courthouses in Contra Costa County will be closed until April 30, 2020. There will be one courtroom open to hear very limited matters, but even that courtroom will be closed to the public.
Contra Costa Public Defenders understand that this abrupt court closure will cause confusion and hardship for our clients and their loved ones. Below are some questions that we can answer; we will update this notice as more information becomes available.
What happens if I have a court date scheduled during the shutdown?
If you are out of custody, and your court date is scheduled for a date between now and April 30, a new court date will be set for you after May 1st. The notice will be sent to you by mail from the court or from your attorney. As of now we do not have any information about how those court dates will be set, or when they are likely to occur.
For CCPD clients who are in-custody, whether your court date proceeds as originally scheduled depends on the type of hearing you have scheduled. Our lawyers will be in touch through letters or through visits to keep you informed.
Will I get a warrant if I can’t make it to my court date because of the shutdown?
No. If you were ordered to come to court on a date when the courthouse is closed, you will not have a warrant issued for a failure to appear.
When will I get notice of my new court date if my court date was canceled because of the court shutdown?
We do not know when the court will send out new court dates to people whose court dates were canceled. As soon as our office has updated information on this from the court, we will post that information.
What happens to people who are arrested while the court is closed?
If someone is arrested and taken into custody while the courts are shut down, their case will be heard in the single courtroom that will still be open. CCPD will have attorneys in court to represent people who are brought to court from in-custody to be arraigned on new charges. This courtroom is located in the Bray Building at 1000 Ward Street in Martinez.
If someone is arrested but NOT taken into custody while the courts are shut down, they will be given a date to come to court sometime after April 30, 2020.
What about juvenile cases?
Juvenile cases are also put on hold during the court shutdown. However, if a young person is arrested and taken to juvenile hall during the shutdown, they will either be released or their case will be heard by the judge in the courtroom that will remain open. CCPD attorneys will be in court to represent those young people. Although this courthouse is going to be closed to the public, there may be limited access to a court hearing for a juvenile case by parents or guardians.
Will CCPD be open during the shutdown?
Yes, but only the main Martinez office. All other CCPD offices - Richmond and Walnut Creek Branch Offfices and the Alternate Defender Office - will be closed until further notice.
How do I communicate with my attorney?
CCPD attorneys will still be working during the shutdown. Attorneys will do their best to respond to email and voicemail messages within 24 hours.
How long will this shutdown last?
At this point the presiding judge has said that courts will be reopen on May 1, 2020. However, he has also let us know that if necessary he will extend the shutdown. As of now we have no way of knowing how long the shutdown might last.
What is being done about people in custody?
We understand that the court shutdown is particularly hard on people who are in jail waiting for their cases to be heard. CCPD is working to get people released from custody. If you have a loved one in custody in Contra Costa County, you can call our office to get more information about their status.
What does it mean to "shelter in place?"
All Contra Costa residents have been ordered to stay at home except for essential needs, at least through April 7th. Contra Costa Health Services have an FAQ about what this means. For more information, please visit their website.
I need help with financial assistance, housing, food, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, medical resources, and/or reentry services.
Our office has created a COVID-19 Resource Packet that contains the information you need. It can be found here.
What should I do if I can't afford to buy food?
Monument Crisis Center is distributing emergency groceries of persons in need and their families. On Friday, March 20; Monday, March 23; and Tuesday, March 24 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at their center located at 1990 Market Street, Concord. Please visit their website for future dates.
Last updated: March 30, 2020