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Local News

Courts still open, with limitations

Mendocino County Courthouse in Ukiah.

March 30, 2020 — With the pandemic disrupting all aspects of everyday life, a lot has changed at the Mendocino County Superior Court. KZYX sat down with Ann Moorman, Presiding Judge of the Mendocino County Superior Court, on Friday, March 27, for details.

We’ve included two short excerpts at the bottom of this partial summary, as well as the half-hour interview.

Moorman said the Ukiah and Ten Mile courthouses are bothl open, but with a lot of limitations. Clerks’ windows are closed, so filings can be made at drop boxes in the hallways. Emergency orders and temporary restraining orders can still be issued.

Courtroom proceedings have been most affected, though all court calendars except child support are ongoing, with lawyers convening either by phone or on video. Defendants in custody and their lawyers will appear on video from jail, with judges and prosecutors in the courthouse. Surrender dates for people sentenced to jail have been pushed a month or more into the future, in an effort to keep the incarcerated population down and reduce the likelihood — or severity — of an outbreak at the facility. “In the spirit of rehabilitation,” Moorman said, judges do typically seek remedies other than jail to correct the behavior of offenders. But for now, even the community service office is closed. Drug courts and other collaborative courts are closed until April 3.

Evictions for non-payment of rent due to coronavirus and governmental responses to it are suspended for now, but Moorman said she is open to helping property owners evict tenants who are damaging the property or otherwise doing something egregious.

In an effort to discourage people from coming to the courthouse, Moorman has suspended the imposition of civil assessments, the fines and late fees that accrue when people don’t pay things like traffic tickets.

Asked how this would affect the finances of the court, Moorman said the court is mainly funded by grants, donations, and allocations from the legislature and state Judicial Council. Each of the 58 courts has received its funding for the fiscal year, which ends July 1. “I don’t know what the impact on our budget is going to be,” she said, though a decrease in tax revenue is part of a widely predicted economic downturn.


Second excerpt of interview with Ann Moorman, Presiding Judge of the Mendocino County Superior Court.
Full-length interview with Ann Moorman, Presiding Judge of the Mendocino County Superior Court.

Local News