California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on Monday evening ordered all jury trials in the state superior courts suspended for 60 days in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The chief justice said courts are not able to operate as usual while observing social distancing and other health directives of federal, state and local authorities.
"Courts cannot comply with these health restrictions and continue to operate as they have in the past," Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the order.
The order allows some exceptions. It says superior court trial judges may conduct trials during the suspension "upon a finding of good cause shown or through the use of remote technology, when appropriate."
The chief justice wrote in the order that in addition to courts' difficulty in providing for social distancing during trials, the closure of schools means that many court employees, trial participants and potential jurors must stay at home with their children.
"These restrictions have also made it nearly impossible for courts to assemble juries," she wrote.
As chief justice, Cantil-Sakauye chairs the San Francisco-based Judicial Council of California, the rule-making body of the state court system.
"The World Health Organization, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of California have recognized that the world, country, and state face a life-threatening pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus," Cantil-Sakauye wrote.