Currently courts are working 50 percent of their capacity.
On March 17 all civil and family courts in Baja California were closed due to Covid-19. Baja California’s judicial powers said they lacked money to sanitize their installations, and the high number of Covid cases in the state kept courts closed until the government partially opened them on August 3.
This has led to a large number of backlogged cases that would take at least a year to start their corresponding judicial process in court. Shamanta Sesma Valdez finally started with her divorce, child support and custody lawsuit right when courts re-opened, but she was told that she must wait until all cases are heard before hers are solved.
“We just know everything is stopped,” Shamanta said about her case. “They said my case will start in January, but it is almost December and they haven’t sent [my ex-partner] any court notification about my lawsuit. And because I don’t have custody of the children, he can take the kids, as he did once,” she adds.
The last time that happened, the father took the two kids to Mexico City for 20 days without her consent. When she went to report their disappearance to the general prosecutor’s office, they told her there was no felony to pursue because her ex-partner was still the legal father.
“I had it to go and get them in Mexico City. I looked for help with social services and with the prosecutor’s office and they just opened a search archive but they did nothing, so I went by myself,” she said.
I found another case of an elderly landlord who anonymously told me about his case. He is trying to evict the tenants renting his home, who have turned it into a rehab center and are now trying to keep the house. When he realized this, he sued them for breach of contract, but the lawsuit hasn’t been processed since they presented it in September.
His lawyer Ricardo Peñaloza estimates that the trial for this case will not take place until April next year. “But that doesn’t mean it will be solved that year. Being optimistic, if he wins… he’ll take back his house in 2022 or even 2023,” he stated.
Currently courts are working 50 percent of their capacity. Lawsuits can be presented, but trials are not allowed due to Covid-19. Therefore, defendants and plaintiffs cannot present any evidence to the judge and cases are piling up.
In Tijuana alone, every year up to 3000 lawsuits are registered in each of the 14 civil and family court. In nine months of no trials there are around 31,500 cases like these, waiting to be processed into courts of the city.