Aitken*Aitken*Cohn helping the fight to protect consumers

By Casey Johnson

Aitken*Aitken*Cohn has a long history of being active in and supporting the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), the statewide organization representing consumers and attorneys who represent them.

Founding Partner Wylie A. Aitken is a Past President of the organization, and is the youngest person ever to serve as President of the organization (then known as the California Trial Lawyers Association). Partner Darren Aitken is a longtime Board member of CAOC and current chair of the Webinars as part of the education committee. Partner Casey Johnson is a long time CAOC board member and currently serves in the leadership of CAOC as Treasurer and a member of CAOC’s Executive Committee.

The wheels of justice are oftentimes slow, but with mandatory cancellations of jury trials for at least 60 days, justice has come to a complete halt. Aitken*Aitken*Cohn has been supporting CAOC’s efforts to help protect consumers’ rights and access to justice as the state grapples with an unparalleled shutdown at the courthouses. As many people may not know, under the California Constitution, each county operates its own court system essentially independent of all others and has authority to run its court as it chooses. This leaves attorneys in a state of chaos as each county has been handling the crisis in different ways with different plans for moving forward.

CAOC was instrumental in getting the Governor to issue an Executive Order on March 27 granting authority to the Chief Justice of California to issue further orders to help with the administration of justice. As such, the Judicial Council can now issue orders that will require counties to act in uniformity on issues it chooses to regulate.

While the governor did issue some very limited orders regarding remote depositions and e-service of documents, CAOC is now working tirelessly with the Judicial Council of California and the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court to try to uniformity with respect to key justice issues. These efforts began to pay off today, as the Judicial Council approved the emergency orders (1) tolling the statute of limitations from April 6 until 90 days after the lifting of the emergency order by the governor; (2) increasing the five year time to bring a case to trial by 6 months; and (3) allowing for remote depositions where deposition officer need not be in the room with the deponent.

It is further expected that the Judicial Council will address at least two “key” issues: (1) allowing petitions to approve minors compromise hearings to go forward as “essential” and without any personal physical appearances in court; and (2) uniformity for rescheduling trials and hearings.  This will allow minors and incompetent individuals to have their settlements approved by the court, so that they do not have to wait needlessly to get these much-needed funds.

These are unchartered waters to be sure, and Aitken*Aitken*Cohn is honored to be on the frontline assisting with the statewide efforts to ensure that injured parties’ rights to justice are protected.  This means not only working hard for our own clients, but working with and continuing to support CAOC and the state to ensure that all consumers’ can have their day in court once the courthouses reopen.