Coronavirus and the Courts: What Changes Will Stay?

Tech experts who work with county court systems have implemented a number of digital changes to help justice continue to function in the time of COVID-19, and some of those changes may become permanent.

ZACK QUAINTANCE, GOVERNMENT TECHNOLOGY   |   JUNE 3, 2020   |  ANALYSIS

County court systems have used technology to conduct business during COVID-19 social distancing, and some of those uses are yielding benefits that may lead to long-term changes, officials estimate.

Over the past three months, COVID-19 social distancing has upended the logistical functions of nearly all aspects of American governance, including court systems. It sounds obvious, but so much of the courts functionality happens through in-person interactions, be it outward-facing functions like arraignments or behind-the-scenes work such as meetings between judges and attorneys.

While many courts have been set up for sometime to conduct functions remotely on occasion — particularly in instances of proceedings that involve juveniles or other sensitive participants — the rate at which they have utilized technology in this way is minimal. In other words, when the impact of COVID-19 ground life to a halt in March, the vast majority of American courts did not have practices or in some cases the physical technology to go remote, said Rita Reynolds, chief technology officer for the National Association of Counties

“When COVID hits, all of a sudden we have to use video,” Reynolds said. “We can’t have people coming to the courthouse. Judges themselves may not even be able to get in.” For the full story see the article.

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