The COVID crisis has dramatically altered the way courts conduct business, but any judge will tell you, with a sense of pride, that the courts never closed. How have courts – an institution notoriously slow to change – adapted to provide access to justice throughout a pandemic?
The Center on Civil Justice will be hosting a conference on January 11, 2021, 12pm-5pm, to address these issues.
The conference will examine the nature of the way courts change and adapt in general, what specific trial and pre-trial rules and procedures have changed (and how), and which of these changes can be used to improve efficiency and access to justice after the COVID crisis passes.
Panel 1: Adaption & Access to Justice: How Courts Respond to a Crisis
How have courts historically adapted to necessity? How have they adapted to the COVID crisis? What tools do courts use to remain flexible, and how have courts continued to provide access to justice? How are pro se parties treated during a pandemic? What about those without internet connections? How do these changes intersect with rules of professional ethics?
Moderator: Samuel Issacharoff (NYU)
Panelists: Rolando Acosta (New York Supreme Court Appellate Division 1st Department), Jennifer Gilroy Ruiz (New York City Law Department), Colleen Shanahan (Columbia)
Panel 2: Pretrial Changes: Depositions, Discovery, and Service of Process
Across the country, document protocols for depositions are being reexamined, with different solutions cropping up in different jurisdictions. Texas just released new procedural rules with numerous changes – service of process via email and social media (such as Facebook or Twitter) is now permitted. This panel will discuss which pre-trial rules are changing and how, and give recommendations on how they should change for the duration of the crisis.
Panel 3: Trials: Witnesses & Juries
COVID has led to an increase in bench trials, with new rules. As jury trials resume, new issues arise, balancing safety with due process rights.
Moderator: Sheila Birnbaum (Dechert)
Panelists: Mark Lanier (Lanier Law Firm), Hon. Jo-Lynne Lee (Alameda County California Superior Court), Hon. Barbara Rothstein (W.D. Wash.), Ben Rubinowitz (Gair, Gair, Conason)
Panel 4: Post-COVID: What Innovations Should We Keep?
When the need for new rules and technologies ends, courts will not go back to the way things were. Some innovations can lead to more efficient courts and better access to justice. Which innovations are working? Which should be kept?