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New Look This Week For LA's Courts: Masks Are Now Mandatory For Court Officials

L.A. Superior Court Judge Miguel Espinoza, wearing a mask, holds arraignments in his downtown L.A. courtroom via video on April 21. (Myung J. Chun / POOL / AFP)
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Judges and other staff in L.A. County Superior Court will now wear face coverings in the courtroom and other public areas inside courthouses.

The order was issued Saturday by Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile. In a statement Brazile said:

“The Court is committed to protecting the health and safety of the public, attorneys, justice partners, judicial officers and employees. Most medical and healthcare experts recommend the use of face coverings during this pandemic. Paired with the protocols for social distancing, we can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our courthouses and communities.”

Activity in the courts has been greatly reduced for weeks under the broader "Safer At Home" orders. Courts are only handling "essential, time-sensitive proceedings to keep as many people as possible out of the courthouses," the news release announcing mandatory masks noted.

Among the safety measures in place to provide alternatives to going to courthouses: remote appearance technology and customer service call centers.

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The announcement of the change said that even though the court system was exempt from the county orders requiring masks be worn in public places, court officials have been strongly encouraging the public to use them, including by handing out paper masks at courthouse entrances.

Brazile he believes his order will “decrease the chances of an asymptomatic Judge or Commissioner spreading the virus to others.”

Jails and prisons are among hard hit institutions in this pandemic.

  • Nearly 70% of inmates of the 1,042 prisoners held at Terminal Island, a low-security federal prison in San Pedro, have tested positive for COVID-19. Seven have died.
  • The rate at the low-security federal prison in Lompoc is even higher, with 851 positive cases among its 1,162 inmates.
  • The nearby medium-security prison in Lompoc has another 32 cases and two inmate deaths.

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