COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Briefs & Articles

Motions and Templates
  • Motion to prohibit masks on witnesses by Bruce Kapsack. Read the motion here

  • ACLU NorCal & CACJ Petition for Writ of Mandate filed in Alameda County. Read the Petition here
    Application for temporary restraining order
    Points & Authorities 

  • Decision of 4th DCA on San Diego Public Defender Writ, holding that $0 bail is not mandatory. Read the Joint decision here

  • CACJ and American Immigration Lawyers’ Association petition Supreme Court to halt transfers from jail and prison to ICE detention centers. Read the Joint Petition for Writ here Supreme Court Decision here

  • Petition for Writ of Mandate from Placer County asking the Court of Appeal to require bail to be set at $0 after the Superior Court followed ‘normal’ pre-emergency bail setting procedures. Denied by 3rd DCA without opinion. PDF Doc here

  • Motion by San Diego PD opposing court’s procedure on $0 bail PDF Doc here

  • Brief objecting to preliminary hearing conditions with defendant appearing by video w/o consent and opposing motions to continue” by Eric Schweitzer PDF Doc here

  • Inmates affected by COVID-19 may have Eighth Amendment claims for cruel and unusual punishment under Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 28 (1993) [thanks to Christopher Stansell for the submission] Word Doc here

  • In re Venable (1927) 86 Cal.App. 585, a case where the Court of Appeal held that the unavailability of jurors due to an epidemic of infantile paralysis justified not holding a jury trial within the statutory time period. PDF here

  • This is a template provided by NACDL to assist in preparation of federal or state motion to release pre-trial detainees during pandemic. NACDL Template to Release Pre-trial

  • This is a sample motion for OR during the Corona virus pandemic  Sample SFPD Bail Motion Word Pad & Sample SFPD Bail Motion PDF

  • In the attached column appearing in the Washington Post, two medical doctors explain why slowing down the spread of the coronavirus requires releasing prisoners. PDF here
  • Northern District of California: Sample Motion to Continue all cases until safe to appear. Submitted by Federal Defenders. Sample Motion here

Guides and Reports
  • Public Health Pathways for Criminal Justice Systems – a joint recommendation View the guide here

  • Prisoner Advocacy Network’s resource page with outlines and steps for getting out of jail or prison during COVID-19 Outbreak View the page here

  • The Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) has started collecting data on the incarcerated populations both statewide and by counties. Data includes the total number incarcerated and the changes in population since March, plus indications of how many people were released due to COVID-19 concerns. Description of the project is found here
    Find a smartsheet of the jail profile survey here
    Find a smartsheet of the juvenile populations here

  • Fourth District Court of Appeal on the appeal of the motion, holding that $0 is discretionary and can be raised by the court in any case View here

  • Daily death totals of COVID-19 vs. Other Conditions, from March 1 to April 14 View here

  • 3/14/2020 National Emergency Webinar on COVID-19 and Criminal Legal and Immigrant Detention System  View here

  • 4/03/2020 AG Barr’s Memo to Bureau of Prisons to Increase Use of Home Confinement More here

  • Letter from Dr. Lisa Pratt, the director of Jail Health Services in SF, calling for a “rapid reduction” of the jail population to between 700 to 800 inmates in a letter to criminal justice leaders including the police chief, sheriff and district attorney. More here

  • The Justice Collaborative and Prison Policy Institute have created these guidelines for prison and jail inmates during the crisis. PDF here

  • Guide to how different courts handle the coronavirus. More here

  • 2020 draft guide to epidemics by the California courts. More here

  • The California Supreme Court webpage showing all orders concerning scheduling changes due to the coronavirus. More here

  • Epidemiology report on the coronavirus that attempts to answer how far it will spread in the United States and the United Kingdom. More here

  • Wayland Chang has complied information in a wiki resource here
News and Press
  • 6/2/2020 The police almost always escape civil liability and damages when they kill or injure or otherwise violate civil rights people because of the judicially-created policy of “Qualified Immunity” More here

  • 3/26/2020 New York City Jails Have An Alarmingly High Infection Rate, According To An Analysis By The Legal Aid Society  “Based on this analysis, New York City jails have become the epicenter of COVID-19,” a Legal Aid attorney said. More here

  • 3/24/2020 Today the Governor issued Executive Order N-36-20 concerning state prisons and parole hearings. It is based upon concerns related to COVID-19. More here

  • 3/24/2020 This is the Prison Policy Institute proposals for reducing inmate population during the virus More here

  • 3/20/2020 Washington Post: More than two dozen prosecutors press to release inmates, drop charges and thin jail population in response to the coronavirus. More here

  • 3/19/2020 Sacramento Bee: Gavin Newsom issues statewide stay-at-home order to slow spread of coronavirus. More here

  • 3/19/2020 Los Angeles Times: ‘Complete chaos’ as Orange County courts reopen amid coronavirus panic More here

  • 3/19/2020 Fresno Bee: No social distancing in this packed Fresno County courtroom, lawyer says More here

  • 3/19/2020 ABA Journal: “In jails, one of the greatest at-risk populations in an epidemic situation is people in prisons and jails. If a virus gets into that kind of institution, it’s very hard to slow it down or get rid of it,” says Stephen Munkelt, CACJ's Executive Director. More here

  • 3/18/2020 LA Daily Journal: CACJ Past President Jacqueline Goodman chastises Chief Justice and courts for failure to respond to the dangers of the global pandemic, outlines steps to protect the community including the release of non-violent inmates from jail and prison. More here

How are California Courts Handling the Coronavirus?


CACJ has created a Google Doc with up-to-date information for members of the defense. If you have additional information to add, please email

Access the Google Doc here.

In the wake of the worldwide novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), California courts have struggled to serve the essential functions of the court while protecting the public health. Of the many aspects of the official response in need of improvement, the most surprising is the lack of communication of vital information as the various county courts, and the various courts within those counties, change procedures, locations and protocols with little or no notice. CACJ has created this page in response to the need for a central repository of the most up-to-the-minute information on court operations from throughout this, the most populous state in the nation.[1] If you have information to add, we encourage you to share it at

We salute our brave sisters and brothers, tirelessly fighting to protect their clients, at risk to their own health and that of their families. CACJ is here to support you with information, as well as lobbying efforts in all three branches of state government-- with the Governor, the Judicial Council, and the legislature. One result: the Emergency bail schedule.

Together, we will meet these unprecedented challenges and emerge stronger than ever.

Governor, Chief Justice, and Judicial Council Orders & Rules

  • Judicial Council Order for Emergency Rules 4-6-20 as amended 4-17
    Read the Rules here
  • Governor’s 4-Stage Plan 4-29-20
    Read the Plan here
  • Chief Justice’ Extension of Emergency 4-29-20
    Read the Order here
  • AG Barr’s Memo to Bureau of Prisons to Increase Use of Home Confinement 4-3-20
    Read the Memo here
  • Executive Order N-38-20 giving the judicial Council emergency powers to make rules, 3/27/20.
    Read the  Orders here
  • California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye just issued a statewide order on 3/23/20 suspending all jury trials in California's superior courts for 60 days and allowing courts to immediately adopt new rules to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Read the CACJ News Brief here
  • Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye issued an advisory to all county superior court presiding judges and court executive officers on 3/20/20.
    Read the CACJ News Brief here

  • California Chief Justice Issues Guidance to Expedite Court Emergency Orders, 3/16/20.
    Read the CACJ News Brief here

CACJ Advocacy and Reports

CACJ wages a continuing statewide campaign for effective criminal justice policies in California. CACJ calls on all political leaders to rationally debate criminal justice.
  • CACJ co-signed a letter to AG Becerra with ACLU and others, asking California police to stop using a gang database seen as racially biased.
    Read the letter here
  • Advocates for people housed in California’s forensic psychiatric hospitals have urged the state to discharge patients who can safely be released to reduce the burden on staff and allow for social distancing. Their requests have been unsuccessful, and this month five state hospitals reported cases of COVID-19.
    Read the article here
  • Press Release: Law Enforcement Accountability and Community Justice Act
    Read the Press Release here
  • CACJ, NACDL, and YJC Reply brief on Petition for Writ
    Read the Joint Petition Writ here
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Comments and Recommendations on Emergency Rules 4, 5 and 7, April 5 from Executive Director Stephen Munkelt
    Read the CACJ News Brief here
  • Update on Executive and Judicial Orders, March 28 from Executive Director Stephen Munkelt
    Read the CACJ News Brief here
  • Breaking: Chief Justice Urges Bail Reductions & Releasing Inmates, March 23 from Executive Director Stephen Munkelt
    Read the CACJ News Brief here
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice letter to Governor Newsome, Urging Reduction of Inmate Population, March 20th
    Read the CACJ News Brief here
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice letter to Presiding Judges of California Re: Request for Immediate Action, March 20th
    Read the CACJ News Brief here
  • CACJ COVID-19 Resource Center Launch, March 19 from Executive Director Stephen Munkeltpan
    Read the CACJ News Brief here
  • An Urgent Address to Criminal Defense Lawyers from CACJ President Eric Schweitzer, March 14, 2020
    Read the CACJ News Brief here

Affiliates & Affinity Partners