system change
March 25, 2020

Coronavirus could be the start of a long-term transformation for the American justice system.

As courts shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, attorneys and judges are struggling to prevent uncertain delays while still preserving justice under the law. It has translated into "a scramble for technological work-arounds" that could last beyond the outbreak, ABC News reports.

There are some pretty obvious dilemmas when it comes to holding jury trials and working through court cases in the time of coronavirus spread. Cramming 12 jurors in a box clearly doesn't fit the CDC's social distancing guidelines; neither does being in a bustling courthouse in general. But beyond a few imperfect attempts (immigration courts' attempts to replace in-person hearings with video chats were plagued with issues), courts haven't implemented many measures that allow judicial processes to continue at home.

"This disaster, this pandemic is going to change the way the courts do business from now on," Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht told ABC News. "We're going to have to completely rethink how much has to be done in person, how much can be done using technology — that whole issue that we've just never paid much attention to, is going to be front and center going forward."

The Supreme Court has led the way by filing its first remote decisions since 2001 and continued its usual meetings via phone. But things aren't as simple in lower courts with far more moving parts, leaving the ACLU and other watchdogs on the lookout for potential violations of civil liberties and justice. Read more at ABC News. Kathryn Krawczyk

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