East County News Service
Photo: Scales of justice, cc via Bing
March 6, 2021 (San Diego) –The County of San Diego has approved COVID-19 vaccines for judges, prosecutors, public defender attorneys, and court employees. Also covered are criminal defense lawyers representing poor defendants in federal court.
These individuals regularly come in contact with people who have been in prison or county jail, congregate facilities with a high risk of COVID-19. The County has included them under the “emergency services” category along with police, firefighters, animal control workers and security guards at public facilities.
The County Department of Public Health has notified the District Attorney, Superior Court and Public Defender’s offices that their workers can get the vaccine effective immediately. Federal court workers are also included in the order.
Also included are “government personnel and contracted vendors working in judicial or administrative facilities involved in the administration of justice.”
Attorneys practicing civil law, and criminal defense attorneys who do not represent indigent clients in federal court, are apparently not covered by the order.
Vaccines for eligible justice system workers began last weekend.
The county’s decision came after the state shifted to a largely age-based priority system for vaccines, a move that led to letters by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, District Attorney Summer Stephan, Public Defender Randy Mize, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw and San Diego Superior Court Judge Lorna Alksne urging earlier vaccination of justice system workers , the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The pandemic has halted most jury trials, led to court closures and scaled-back services after reopening, in turn causing a long backlog of cases, problems that could be partially alleviated once judges, lawyers and other justice system workers are fully vaccinated.