December 2, 2021
General Criminal Hearings Protocol

The Court is expanding the use of remote appearances by way of Zoom Audio/Video to be used by our criminal justice partners who are able to appear remotely for certain criminal calendars and hearing types. Please refer to the Calendar Appearance Requirement Matrix, a separate attachment, for specific detail as to calendar appearance requirements (Zoom, in-person, etc.).

If your matter is scheduled on a calendar that requires or encourages a Zoom appearance, you may appear by Audio/Video conferencing without any prior approval. Appearance by video is required for counsel; however, your client(s) may appear by audio only if they do not have access to appear by video.

To obtain Zoom credentials for remote appearances, please go here.

If you do appear in person, you will be required to sign-in with the bailiff and provide your contact information. By entering the courtroom you are agreeing that you will notify the Court if you test positive for COVID-19, or have a confirmed exposure to someone with COVID-19. Your contact information will be used for the sole purpose of contact tracing. This information can be found in the Presiding Judge's COVID-19 Order Number 11.

The following is required of all Audio/Video attendees:

  • Follow the same courtroom etiquette requirements when appearing remotely as you would in person
  • Mute your audio when you are not speaking
  • For defendant's only; not counsel: Should you be unable to appear by video as is strongly requested, and you appear by audio only:
    • If you are using the audio only option, you must dial in; you cannot join with the audio only credentials on a desktop or tablet
    • Do not put the call on hold as music will play, and you will by disconnected by the Audio/Video conferencing host, and you will need to rejoin the Audio/Video conferencing session
  • If the case requires an interpreter, consecutive interpretation may be required
    • Please speak slowly and pause at regular intervals to allow for the interpreter to interpret for the defendant
  • If you have a completed plea form to present to the Court, email it to the department directly. You can find the department email addresses listed on the Court's website. If you do not know the department, please email CRCLeadership@sanmateocourt.org so that it can be forwarded to the appropriate department
    • For misdemeanors only: Counsel may sign the plea form on behalf of their client; you will be required to clearly state on the record that you have your client's express authorization to do so
    • For felonies: Defendants are required to personally enter their change of plea; they may do so either by appearing remotely or by appearing in-person
    • You are required to retain the original copy of the plea form until the case has resolved, and, when applicable, all appeals deadlines have been exhausted
  • If your client is out of custody, you are encouraged to provide them the hearing credentials so that they appear remotely, and when doing so, they must abide by all the same requirements listed above
  • Defense counsel that needs to have a private conversation with their client must mute their audio, and phone their client either on their phone if they are out of custody, or at the jail if they are in custody
    • If you require an interpreter, phone the interpreter coordinator at 650-261-5023, and you will be connected with an interpreter who may assist you over the telephone
    • You will then need to initiate the 3-way phone call with your client

Instructions for Remotely Conferencing Cases

Remote conferencing shall be conducted on the following calendars:

  • Crim PJ Call Jury Trial Calendar, Southern Call Jury Trial Calendar *, Northern Call Jury Trial Calendar *, Crim PJ Pretrial Conferences, Crim PJ Probation Violation Conferences, Friday Probation Violation Conferences, Northern and Southern Superior Court Reviews, Northern and Southern Pretrial Conferences (in and out of custody), Military Diversion, Veteran's Treatment Court
    * If jury trials are suspended pursuant to an Emergency Order, the cases on the Southern and Northern Call Jury Trial Calendars will not be conferenced
  • There shall be no sign-up list

There shall be two sets of Zoom credentials for each calendar where remote conferencing takes place

  • You will be provided with the information to join the remote conference session, as well as the remote hearing session
  • Counsel shall first join the remote conference session, where they will be placed in a virtual waiting room until their case is called
  • The judicial officer will manage private breakout sessions with the DA and defense counsel to conduct the conferences
  • Once you conclude conferencing with the judicial officer, you shall leave that remote conference session, and join the remote hearing session when you are ready to go on the record

If you have any questions, please contact Deputy Court Executive Officer, Sarah Lind at slind@sanmateocourt.org.

© 2021 Superior Court of San Mateo County