RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The Banning Justice Center will reopen for limited business next week, but seven other courthouses that were closed over two months ago amid the coronavirus emergency will remain shuttered for another one to two weeks, the Riverside County Superior Court announced today.
Presiding Judge John Vineyard signed a directive keeping four courthouses closed until June 12, while three will stay closed only until June 5. All of the closures had been slated to be lifted tomorrow.
According to a court statement, the extended closures stem from “an effort to comply with federal, state and local guidelines” for COVID-19 mitigation.
The Banning Justice Center will be open to the public again beginning Monday, but hearings will be restricted to criminal matters, and court officials will be enforcing social distancing and facial covering rules, according to the Superior Court Executive Office.
The Palm Springs Courthouse, Riverside Family Law Court and Riverside Historic Courthouse are now slated to reopen on June 8. However, hearings and filings will be limited to restraining order applications, temporary guardianships, temporary conservatorships, ex parte applications and other “emergency” matters.
On June 15, the Corona Courthouse, the Hemet Courthouse, the Moreno Valley Traffic & Small Claims Court and the Temecula Courthouse are slated to reopen.
The courts were shut down in mid-March, and the Riverside Juvenile Dependency Court on Farm Road was closed on April 13, as part of the court’s participation in COVID-19 containment. The juvenile court was re-opened before the end of April after all courthouse staff tested negative for the virus.
Vineyard is responsible for all closure orders, but officials pointed out that he’s consulting judges in every region of the county to gather consensus.
Under an order originally issued March 16, most operations — and all public access — at the eight courthouses now due to reopen were suspended.
The downtown Riverside Hall of Justice has remained open daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., along with the Indio Larson Justice Center, the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta and the Blythe Courthouse.
The Superior Court’s web portal remains available, though the timely updating of information on cases has been impacted.
In March, the Superior Court implemented a series of policy changes that remain in force, all of which are based on the need to safeguard against coronavirus.
The foremost action was to halt criminal jury trials. However, those are now set to begin again before the end of June. Civil jury trials are suspended until the first half of August, at the earliest.
Some hearings may be held telephonically, and interested parties who require more information were encouraged to visit www.riverside.courts.ca.gov, or call the court at 951-777-3147.