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Judicial Council to Vote on Eviction and Foreclosure Temporary Emergency Rules

San Francisco—Judicial Council of California voting members today received a circulating order to vote by August 13, 2020, on a proposal to end the temporary emergency rules on evictions and foreclosures.

The council originally approved temporary Emergency rule 1. Unlawful detainers, and Emergency rule 2. Judicial foreclosures at a special remote meeting on April 6. Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye then suspended a vote by council members on June 10 to provide the executive and legislative branches with more time to develop appropriate policy proposals and solutions to deal with the potential impacts evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking about today’s action Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye said:

“The pandemic has had devastating impacts on the people of California—10,359 deaths and 561,911 confirmed cases. The resulting economic recession has caused people in our state and country to lose jobs and health care. Many may lose housing or face bankruptcy.

The Judicial Council has received thousands of comments from those affected—from tenants who fear homelessness to small landlords who face losing their livelihoods or fear bankruptcy. In our ongoing conversations with Governor Newsom and the Legislature we have been responsive to their requests for additional time to develop and enact policy and legislative proposals. 

With the Governor’s continued leadership and these proposals now pending, I am asking the Judicial Council through this circulating order, to amend the sunset provisions of, effective September 1, Temporary Emergency Rules 1 and 2, dealing with evictions and foreclosures.

When the Governor issued his executive order providing me as chair of council with unprecedented temporary authority to take action to protect the health and safety of all who have business in the courts and work there, and to maintain the safe and orderly operations of California’s courts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature was not in session.

I promised the Governor that we would assume this responsibility with the greatest care. The judicial branch cannot usurp the responsibility of the other two branches on a long-term basis to deal with the myriad impacts of the pandemic. The duty of the judicial branch is to resolve disputes under the law and not to legislate.

So I urge our sister branches to act expeditiously to resolve this looming crisis. They have had since March 2020 to explore remedies that will provide fairness to all parties while recognizing the limitations the pandemic has placed on our residents and our institutions. Practical, fair solutions may involve special treatment for COVID-related housing issues that would require parties to mediate their issues before coming to a court system dealing COVID-related backlogs.

California is still under a State of Emergency proclaimed by Governor Newsom on March 4, and there are numerous executive orders still in force. However, I submit that our sister branches of government must address the possibility of pandemic-related evictions, foreclosures, and homelessness as a priority.”

Voting members will submit their decisions on the circulating order by noon on August 13, 2020.