Developments in Litigation Procedure
New Laws from the 2021 Legislative Cycle

Remote Court Appearances & Civil Rights Liability

There were few major changes to California litigation procedure coming out of the 2021 legislative cycle. The most broadly applicable change authorizes remote appearances through mid-2023, at least. In other news, California’s broadest civil right law is significantly expanded to allow claims against police and custodial officers for injuries to prisoners.

Bane Act Amendments Expand Civil Rights Liability

The Bane Act is California’s most broadly applicable civil rights law—the state counterpart to the federal civil rights act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As of January 1, 2022, for the first time in California history, people will be able to bring claims under California law against police and custodial officers for malicious prosecution or for injuries to prisoners. Changes to the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act (Civ. Code, § 52.1) will remove immunities to such claims brought under the Act.

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Remote Court Appearances May Be Here to Stay

Effective Jan. 1, 2022, new legislation permits counsel, parties, and witnesses to appear remotely in civil hearings, trials, and evidentiary hearings, even if the Judicial Council’s COVID-19 emergency authorization for remote appearances lapses as expected next year. New Code of Civil Procedure section 367.75 will authorize remote appearances in civil conferences, hearings, and other court proceedings until at least July 1, 2023, when the Legislature may decide to extend it. (Code Civ. Proc., § 367.5(a), (l).)

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