After more than two months of being closed, the Joshua Tree courthouse is re-opening for business. Quite a backlog of cases has accumulated while the court was closed, and to ease the burden, an additional judge will be brought in temporarily. Managing editor Tami Roleff met with Judge Rodney Cortez, who said the court is making several changes in order to accommodate social distancing requirements…

Judge Rodney Cortez

Criminal, family, traffic, and civil cases will be all heard in the Joshua Tree courthouse’s four courtrooms starting Monday. Judge Rodney Cortez said because the social-distancing capacity of the courtrooms, lobby, and hallway outside the courtrooms will be about a quarter of what they were before the pandemic, additional court sessions will be added, and the start times for each court will be staggered by 15 minutes.

Shade structures will be placed outside the courthouse so people can be out of the sun while they wait to enter the courthouse. Litigants and defendants may—or may not, depending on crowd size—be able to bring one support person into the court with them.

Only two clerk windows will be open inside the courthouse, and will accept cash only. Residents are encouraged to phone, send an email, or use the drop box outside the courthouse to make credit card payments, ask questions, or deliver paperwork.

No jury trials will be held until at least July. When jury trials restart, only three jurors will be seated in the juror box due to social distancing guidelines; the others will be seated in the audience area, reducing the number of spectators even further.

All traffic citation court dates have automatically been extended 75 days.

The Joshua Tree courthouse is the only courthouse in the county that doesn’t have video capabilities, although some defendants accused of felonies have used video from the jails for their arraignments and pre-preliminary hearings.

In-custody arraignments will start July 1.

Courthouse personnel were on paid administrative leave from March until the court reopened; since then, Cortez said they have been working hard to reduce the backlog of warrants, and other court paperwork. He hopes that clerks will be caught up on the paperwork backlog when the court re-opens to the public June 8.

Make a payment:
Call Center 909-3871470 (credit card, M-F 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
Mail/dropbox (no cash)
Contact 760-974-3048
Request an extension
Request a hearing
Fine Reduction
Ability to pay form online (financial hardship) (SB-16351)
Submit by mail or court dropbox

Trial by Declaration
Form TR-205 online at page.
Submit by mail or court dropbox
Use “Infraction Request Form” (SB-16350) to request:

Extensions to:
Complete traffic school
Complete community service
Submit proof of correction
Modify a previous sentence:
Allow traffic school
Allow monthly payments
Change the day of the month payment is due

Call: 760-974-3047
Fax filing: 760-974-3033

Turbo court: – online form preparation and e-filing
Dropbox: No ex-parte motions

Call: 909-708-8606

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