Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill allowing the use of web video and other internet technology to help with the growing backlog of civil cases caused by COVID-19 courthouse shutdowns.
Sen. Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) co-sponsored Senate Bill 1146 with the Consumer Attorneys of California and the California Defense Counsel.
Since the closure of courts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a backlog of delayed hearings and trials that prompted court leaders in many counties pushing civil jury trials into the next year. The bill will allow state court leaders to hold remote video depositions and electronic service of process during the health crisis.
In addition to the benefits of the new technology, the bill will also extend deadlines for discovery actions like exchange of expert witness information, mandatory settlement conferences, and summary judgment motions for the same length of time as any continuance or postponement of a trial.
Even though this bill will not completely elevate the massive backlog of cases, it will help begin to clear the long list of outstanding cases and prevent them from continuing to pile up. Technology used for remote depositions and e-service could become a permanent tool for attorneys in civil cases.