Riverside County Courts Update: April 29, 2020


The court is now opening up the ability for private counsel to do normal (albeit shortened to 10 minute) visits with their clients daily via video conferencing.  This will be done in the afternoons and you will need to go to court when your appointment is scheduled to do the visit itself.

Some of you may have heard that the PD’s office and the Conflict Panels have separate Skype technology access to do those video visits from places that aren’t in the courthouse.  To do so, they have had to purchase licenses for technology that was not cheap, relied on county resources to do so, and had to integrate a system within the Riverside County IT network to satisfy jail security concerns regarding who would actually be having communication with the inmate.  As our organization is mostly (although not all) private lawyers having all independent offices, it does not make sense for us to pursue a similar option at this time.  The court has provided us with video court call access within the courts to do these visits and RSO is going to make those visits available to us in the mid-late afternoon.

The court will now be allowing 977 dispositions to be filed with the court for all misdemeanor cases that do not require a CPO or AFS.  This does NOT include cases that are currently felonies, but will be receiving a misdemeanor disposition.

There are a series of forms that will be needed to be completed up on the court website.  One important item is the need for the 977 Plea Through Counsel form to be completed.  Notarization will not be sufficient for these pleas and is not needed.  I specifically asked about Pre-COVID-19 requirements by certain bench officers that everything under the sun be notarized and was assured that the 977 Plea Through Counsel form is all that will be needed in this process.

You will need to have ALL forms filled out completely, INCLUDING program referrals dates.  Program times will be updated on the court website and will be many, many months out to allow ample time.  If forms are not completed correctly, the packet will be rejected.

There will be separate stipulation forms coming for things like program reinstatements, VOPs, modifications of probation, diversion reinstatements, etc.  As with the pleas above, all the forms will need to be submitted to the court completely or will be bounced back to you.

The court is opening up some limited court rooms throughout the county to address some cases.  Each location is different, so please read each.  All of these processes are voluntary, no one is ordered to participate so if you’re concerned about being high risk, etc., please don’t feel compelled to do this because the court isn’t mandating this process.  The court very soon should be updating the official public closure to at least May 15th.

S201 will be opening by Friday to resolve both in or out of custody cases with the defendant and all parties present.  You must have your plea forms, probation forms, and other forms ready to go and submitted to the court with your request to calendar.  Make the request through the add-on email to request that.

If you believe a chambers conference may help resolve your matter, you may request to do a telephonic chambers conference with Judge Dickerson.  To make that request, email both Judge Dickerson (FPaul.Dickerson@riverside.courts.ca.gov) and your DA on the same email, and include your telephonic contact information as well.

Indio is opening two new courtrooms (2G & 3R) as of May 11th for negotiated dispositions and contested hearings where BOTH sides agree to move forward with them.

  • One is for out of custody negotiated dispositions (felonies OR misdos with AFS or CPOs)
  • Other is for contested hearings where both sides say they want to go forward
    • Prelims that don’t have time waiver issues
    • 995’s
    • Suppression Motions

They will start accepting requests to add on by May 6.  The paperwork for dispositions must be submitted fully completed, other than for your client’s signatures, which can be done at court the day of.

HOJ is opening two new court rooms (61 & 51) as of May 11th.  Banning will continue to be shut down for now, but Banning case resolutions can be done at HOJ.

  • BOTH are disposition calendars
  • 51 will be In custody matters, 52 will be used for staging (getting client’s signatures)
  • 61 will be out of custody matters (10 a day for dispositions, 5 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon.)

They will start accepting requests to add on by May 6.   As with everywhere else, the paperwork must be filled out with everything except your client’s signatures in advance and submitted to the court as part of the request to add on.  This includes probation terms, etc

Hope everyone’s doing well,
Graham D. Donath, President
Riverside County Criminal Defense Bar Association

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