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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Superior Court (Court) will conduct virtual Traffic/Minor Offense hearings. Participants can attend the hearing remotely by video conferencing using the free Microsoft Teams App (Teams) or by telephone (teleconference) if authorized by the court.
1. Attend remotely by video conferencing using Microsoft Teams
If you intend to submit evidence, it must be submitted and received by U.S. mail, or e-mailed as an attachment to the exhibit email address listed for the department your hearing is set, at least (2) court days in advance of the hearing. Please include with your correspondence (for emails – in the subject line): (i) date of hearing, (ii) time set on calendar, (iii) court case number, and (iv) defendant’s last name and first initial. Do not send original documents by mail. For emails, the attached exhibit(s) must be in Word, .pdf, or .jpeg (for photos only, not documents) format. Correspondence/emails that are untimely, lack the proper identifying information, or are not in the proper format will be disregarded. Please submit one email only. Any evidence mailed or emailed will not be returned. There is no guarantee that the court will be able to access or view evidence submitted by email, however the evidence may still be presented at the time of the hearing, in the judicial officer’s discretion.
Joining the hearing
From your device or computer, refer to the list of Traffic/Minor Offense departments below. You will find the courtroom on your notice or court paperwork. Click on the Teams link assigned to the department that will hear your case.
Join the hearing from a room with no or minimal background noise.
Join the hearing 30 minutes before the start time indicated in your hearing notice so the courtroom clerk can check you in.
Tips for participants who join the Teams meeting (video conferencing)
Click on the Teams link assigned to the department that will hear your case. Refer to the instructions on setting up Teams on your device or computer if you have not done so.
Teams will launch and show the following screen. Fill in the Enter name field with 'First Name Last Name - Party description' (for example: 'Amy Smith - Defendant' or 'Robert Jones - Attorney for Defendant or R. Jones, Badge ##### - Officer/Deputy'). Click Join Now and ensure you have muted your mic before joining as pictured.
All participants will wait separately in a virtual lobby. You will see a screen indicating 'Someone in the meeting should let you in soon'. The courtroom clerk will admit each participant into the hearing when ready to do so. Please wait patiently and do not exit the lobby if you are not immediately admitted. If you have joined the meeting early, or if the Court is delayed, the lobby may time out. If this occurs, please re-join the meeting.
After the courtroom clerk admits you into the meeting, you will hear and see the courtroom and other participants. The courtroom clerk may ask you to confirm your name and address. Please unmute your mic and enable your camera.
Tips for participants who join the meeting by phone (teleconferencing)
If you are unable to appear by video conference or if you have technical difficulties such as poor video quality or a poor internet connection during a video conference hearing, join the hearing by telephone by dialing the conference number assigned to the department conducting the hearing, conference ID followed by #. The judicial officer will decide whether the proceeding can continue by teleconference, or if the matter will be continued to a later time when you can appear by video conference or the court has resumed in-person hearings.
Muting and unmuting your phone:
Press * 6 to mute or unmute your phone, or if your phone has a mute button, you may use that instead.
The Court can also mute participants who have joined the hearing by telephone.
Participants should not place the Court on hold, or put the phone on speakerphone, as this will decrease audio quality.
If you are technologically unable to appear by either videoconference or teleconference (for example, lacking a working computer, tablet, or phone), you may request a continuance of your hearing using the Motion for Continuance of Remote Hearing, SDSC #MO-063. This form must be received by the court at least 48 hours before the scheduled hearing. If the motion is granted, the court will continue your hearing for approximately 90 days and will notify you by mail of the new hearing date. The Court’s preference is that all parties continue to appear virtually. However, effective January 19 for Kearny Mesa and North County, January 21 for South County and January 26 for East County, the Court is prepared to accept in-person appearances for defendants and/or their attorneys. Law enforcement and witnesses are expected to continue appearing virtually.
ADVISORY: Several court hearings are being conducted virtually. Virtual hearings SHALL NOT be photographed, recorded (audio or video), or rebroadcast without prior written judicial authorization consistent with California Rules of Court, rule 1.150, and San Diego Superior Court General Order of the Presiding Department, Order No. 010120-02. Any unauthorized recording, photography, or rebroadcast without prior written judicial authorization may be a basis for a citation for contempt of court or an order imposing monetary or other sanctions as provided by law. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 1.150(h).)
Traffic/Minor Offense Departments' MS Teams Links and Conference Phone Numbers
IMPORTANT: Please be advised that the MS Teams Links may change. Please check and refer to this page on the date of your hearing to ensure that you are using the most current department conference link or telephone conference ID number.
Procedures During the Hearing
At the beginning of a calendar being called, the Judges/Commissioners will set forth guidelines for the proceedings. Listen carefully for further direction.
Hearings may be called out in case number order or by party names, so be sure to pay attention as the calendar is being called. You will need to answer “present” at the appropriate time.
All participants shall place their microphones on mute unless they are speaking or wish to make an objection.
All efforts shall be undertaken not to interrupt other speakers during the hearing unless it is necessary to assert an objection. Please do not interrupt when another party or the judge/commissioner is speaking. Please keep in mind that the proceedings are being electronically recorded by the Court so speak clearly and slowly.
If an interpreter is necessary, all participants shall speak slowly, in short, complete sentences or questions, and allow time for translation. No one shall respond to a question posed by another participant until the question has been translated.
If an objection is made, all participants must stop speaking and wait for the Court’s ruling on the objection. An attorney or self-represented party can ask to be heard on the objection after it is made. The Court may also request a response to an objection.
Where an objection is made, and discussions are required in the absence of the witness, the witness may be asked to mute their computer or otherwise be virtually ejected from the meeting space, and invited to re-join the meeting when the objection has been addressed.
All participants are required to identify anyone who may be observing the proceedings with them. This is essential to ensure the credibility of testimony.
All evidence to be reviewed and considered by the judge/commissioner hearing your matter must be submitted and received by the court at least two (2) court days before your scheduled hearing date, in accordance with paragraph 3 of “Preparing for the hearing,” above.
The Court will hold all hearings to a strict time estimate. Thus, participants are encouraged to not to repeat arguments included in their written pleadings already submitted to the Court.
Once the Court has heard from all parties, the matter will be submitted for decision. Once submitted, the Court will make a ruling, and no further argument shall be considered.
Participants SHALL NOT record the video conference or teleconference. ADVISORY: The virtual hearing MAY NOT be photographed, recorded (audio or video), or rebroadcast without prior written judicial authorization consistent with California Rules of Court, rule 1.150, and San Diego Superior Court General Order of the Presiding Department, Order No. 010120-02. Please be advised that any unauthorized recording, photography, or rebroadcast without prior written judicial authorization may be a basis for a citation for contempt of court or an order imposing monetary or other sanctions as provided by law. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 1.150(h).)
2. If you are scheduled for a trial you may appear in person at the courthouse
Please arrive at the courthouse 15 minutes before your scheduled hearing.
When you arrive at the courthouse lobby entrance:
Kearny Mesa – check in at the court trial check-in table, located to the left of the entrance.
South County – check in with staff and obtain an admittance ticket to the designated epartment.
North County – check in with staff at the entrance of the building.
East County – check in with staff at the entrance of the building.
If you have retained counsel, you should follow the direction they provide you on appearing.
3. Additional Information
Guidelines for Participants
For the purpose of this guidance, a participant includes a party, an attorney, or a witness.
This information is provided as guidance. The conduct of the hearing remains a matter for the presiding judicial officer. Participants should follow any direction given by the judicial officer.
The behavior, manner, and presentation of a participant should be the same as if they were attending the Court hearing in person. This includes addressing the Judge/Commissioner correctly as “Your Honor” and addressing Counsel politely and courteously.
The participant will ensure that there will be no interruptions or distractions for the duration of their appearance at the hearing.
If participants are unable to give uninterrupted evidence, they should advise the courtroom clerk or their attorney as soon as practical.
A participant should have a copy of all pleadings and documents necessary for the hearing.
A participant that plans to examine a witness must ensure the witness has a copy of documents to which they may be referred.
Participants are not permitted to use or access their phones during the hearing except to communicate with their attorney of record or as required to participate in the hearing or as permitted by the judge/commissioner.
Safety in virtual hearings
Participants should be mindful of their personal safety when participating in virtual hearings, including by considering the following:
If joining the hearing using video, consider turning on background blur, or sitting in front of a neutral background such as a blank wall, window blinds or door.
If there are safety concerns about appearing with video turned on, the Judge/Commissoner may permit a party to participate in the hearing using only audio.
If joining a Microsoft Teams hearing by telephone, participants may switch caller ID off before dialing the conference number. If the caller ID is on, participants should be aware that their phone number will be displayed in the Microsoft Teams meeting to others participating using the desktop app, web browser version, or smartphone app (but will not be visible to other participants also dialing in on the telephone). Switching caller ID off means that only a random 9-digit number will be shown.
Be sure to set aside time to participate in the hearing distraction-free and without children present.
Use a headset or headphones that have a microphone (such as most headphones that come with smartphones), to avoid echo and increase audio quality. Ensure you select the headphones in the settings for ‘Devices’ as the microphone and speaker. If you have the volume turned up and audio coming through the speakers of your device, it may be picked up by your microphone and create an echo. If other participants are complaining of echo and you cannot hear any echo, it is likely that you are the cause.
Ensure you are in a quiet, distraction-free location with good lighting and minimal background noise.
Participants should have their microphone muted, and cameras switched off when they are not speaking or not required to be seen, as directed by the Judge/Commissioner.
If appearing by telephone, do not place the Court on hold. Speak directly into the phone or headset. Do not place the phone on speakerphone, as it will decrease audio quality.
Ensure devices are fully charged before the hearing and have chargers nearby. Videoconferencing can drain the battery of devices.
We recognize that these are new procedures and challenging times for everyone. We are here to help and do our best to make sure your case is timely heard. With practice and patience, we will all become more proficient with the new technologies and platforms. Thank you.