News

Palo Alto Courthouse to resume services in May

Clerk's office, trials and court hearings set to return

The Palo Alto Courthouse on March 23, 2020. The location is set to reopen on May 2, 2022. Photo by Sammy Dallal.

After being shuttered for nearly two years, the Palo Alto Courthouse is scheduled to reopen on May 2, the Santa Clara County Superior Court announced on Monday.

The courthouse, located at 270 Grant Ave., was closed starting in March 2020, after Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody issued an order directing residents and businesses to shelter at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Although trials and some hearings were held online on Zoom and were accessible by teleconference calls, the Palo Alto and Morgan Hill courthouses remained off limits. Their operations were consolidated in San Jose.

Despite the state's reopening in June, the Palo Alto Courthouse remained closed indefinitely due to staffing shortages and budget constraints, forcing the public to attend hearings at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. In-person services in the clerk's office were also only available at the Hall of Justice.

The court now plans to open the courthouse on May 2, according to a press release. The Morgan Hill Courthouse reopened for criminal trials last year; it will reopen its other services beginning Jan. 18.

"The Court is taking a thoughtful and measured approach as we continue to move forward with the restoration of services countywide. We understand that this is a significant change but a necessary one. Reopening courthouses will help us do the court's business, resolve backlogs, increase access, and minimize crowding for our courthouses and clerk's offices," Presiding Judge Theodore C. Zayner said.

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"Through the pandemic, the court has updated our business processes, introduced and enhanced the use of new technologies as we continued to provide access to justice for the people of Santa Clara County. Wherever possible, we anticipate maintaining these online and virtual service enhancements, which have proven to increase access to justice while minimizing exposure to COVID-19."

Once open, the courthouses will implement safety measures to protect the public from COVID-19. The court will install Plexiglas partitions in the courtrooms and add deep cleaning and sanitation practices.

"If you are sick or experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, do not come to court. The court will postpone and reschedule court dates, as necessary, to accommodate those who are ill due to COVID-19," the court statement said.

Anyone who needs to contact or inform the court of an illness may do so by emailing the appropriate division. A list of email addresses can be found at scscourt.org.

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Sue Dremann
 
Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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Palo Alto Courthouse to resume services in May

Clerk's office, trials and court hearings set to return

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jan 11, 2022, 9:43 am

After being shuttered for nearly two years, the Palo Alto Courthouse is scheduled to reopen on May 2, the Santa Clara County Superior Court announced on Monday.

The courthouse, located at 270 Grant Ave., was closed starting in March 2020, after Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody issued an order directing residents and businesses to shelter at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Although trials and some hearings were held online on Zoom and were accessible by teleconference calls, the Palo Alto and Morgan Hill courthouses remained off limits. Their operations were consolidated in San Jose.

Despite the state's reopening in June, the Palo Alto Courthouse remained closed indefinitely due to staffing shortages and budget constraints, forcing the public to attend hearings at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. In-person services in the clerk's office were also only available at the Hall of Justice.

The court now plans to open the courthouse on May 2, according to a press release. The Morgan Hill Courthouse reopened for criminal trials last year; it will reopen its other services beginning Jan. 18.

"The Court is taking a thoughtful and measured approach as we continue to move forward with the restoration of services countywide. We understand that this is a significant change but a necessary one. Reopening courthouses will help us do the court's business, resolve backlogs, increase access, and minimize crowding for our courthouses and clerk's offices," Presiding Judge Theodore C. Zayner said.

"Through the pandemic, the court has updated our business processes, introduced and enhanced the use of new technologies as we continued to provide access to justice for the people of Santa Clara County. Wherever possible, we anticipate maintaining these online and virtual service enhancements, which have proven to increase access to justice while minimizing exposure to COVID-19."

Once open, the courthouses will implement safety measures to protect the public from COVID-19. The court will install Plexiglas partitions in the courtrooms and add deep cleaning and sanitation practices.

"If you are sick or experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, do not come to court. The court will postpone and reschedule court dates, as necessary, to accommodate those who are ill due to COVID-19," the court statement said.

Anyone who needs to contact or inform the court of an illness may do so by emailing the appropriate division. A list of email addresses can be found at scscourt.org.

Comments

Margaret Petros
Registered user
Los Altos
on Jan 12, 2022 at 7:43 pm
Margaret Petros, Los Altos
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2022 at 7:43 pm

Thanks for reporting on this great news! North county residents have been deprived of convenient access to public services for far too long. I, for one, am tired of the lack of care by our county representatives. We pay taxes and are entitled to nearby public services from the local, state and federal government. Residents shouldn't have to drive to San Jose for everything! The idea of permanently closing the PA Courthouse was too upsetting. Over the years, we've just silently accepted the closures of nearby DMV, Social Security and Court House. Enough is enough when spendings continue to increase, but services disappear. Glad to read this article.


Brad Cooper
Registered user
another community
on Feb 3, 2022 at 11:12 am
Brad Cooper, another community
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2022 at 11:12 am

The PA courthouse handles criminal cases while civil cases are heard at the San Jose courthouse.

Inmates are transported by bus from Elmwood and the San Jose main jail for hearings.

Given that the coronavirus is still at large, wouldn't it make more sense to hold these hearings via ZOOM?

This measure would also save on transportation and fuel costs.


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