March 13, 2020

How will courts operate in this time of social distancing?

Consider the example Wisconsin is setting (reported in the Wisconsin State Journal):
Under an order signed Thursday by [Dane County] Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn, judges will hold more hearings by telephone or video conference, or will postpone them entirely, to reduce the potential for exposure to the virus...

“This is really uncharted territory,” Bailey-Rihn said. “A lot of thought has gone into these, balancing the functioning of the court with the safety of jurors, lawyers, litigants and others.”...
• In civil, small claims and family cases, all contested matters requiring in-person appearances — such as jury trials, small claims and custody and placement hearings — are suspended. Any hearing that can be done by phone, though, will proceed as scheduled.

• In criminal cases, any proceeding, including trials, involving a defendant who is not in custody may be rescheduled or held by telephone or video conference. Proceedings involving defendants who are in jail will go on as scheduled....
Bailey-Rihn said if it comes to the point that closing the courthouse appears necessary, that decision would be made in consultation with other stakeholders, such as the state and county. In that instance, she said, plans would be made to operate remotely as much as possible....

16 comments:

n.n said...

The cause is common. The reaction is unprecedented.

cubanbob said...

n.n said...
The cause is common. The reaction is unprecedented"

Spot on. Nothing further need to be said.

purplepenquin said...

Girlfriend is a property manager for a rather large apartment complex. She went downtown to file some evictions yesterday, only to be told that those are considered "non-essential" and will be indefinitely postponed.

Can't help but wonder how many other folks will be late with rent once the word get around...

Lucid-Ideas said...

Had a very long convo with a buddy of mine in SF who works in IT (he was a Digital-Security intel officer in the Army) who had a very interesting take on how this is going to affect his industry.

Biggest winner? The internet and automation, FOR EVERYONE. This thing is going to make the case at a macro-level that every profession and job either will be automated or must have some kind of remote-digital capability.

Thank about it, what can't you automate:

Professors (Althouse) - With the appropriate 3d and virtual equipment, no reason you can't have the course 'in the matrix'

Pilots - they're already doing that

Custodians - robots

Etc. This is going to turn what a lot of people have always considered important but 'virtual' into something very very real, maybe more important than our real lives.

Avatar here we come.

Fernandistein said...

“This is really uncharted territory,” Bailey-Rihn said.

Does that mean the orders have no legal basis?

Apparently so.

rhhardin said...

Make courts more like academic Title IX courts.

Ann Althouse said...

"Can't help but wonder how many other folks will be late with rent once the word get around..."

Forgiveness of late rent seems like something that could fairly be required. We all benefit from people self-isolating in their homes, so it's no time to be throwing people out of their homes.

Lincolntf said...

"Forgiveness of late rent seems like something that could fairly be required. We all benefit from people self-isolating in their homes, so it's no time to be throwing people out of their homes."

Reasonable, but if the renter's landlord has to pay the mortgage on the building, does he also get relief? Does the bank that provided the mortgage get relief because the landlord can't pay?

purplepenquin said...

Forgiveness of late rent seems like something that could fairly be required

Charity is always nice - especially at times like this and if the giver can afford to do so.
The larger property owners could probably survive such a hit for a couple months - but the smaller ones (mom&pop with 2 or 4 houses) would most likely go bankrupt if your idea was implemented.

How long could you financially survive if your sources of income were no longer required to pay what is owed you? I got about 4-5 months of expenses in my emergency fund...after that things start to get real dicey.

Ryan said...

This went out yesterday here in central district of CA (LA & OC Federal Courts):
https://www.cacd.uscourts.gov/news/visitor-restrictions

Roger Sweeny said...

My experience of courts around here is that the judge will schedule about ten motions (in ten different cases) for a morning. Since she doesn't know how long each will take, everyone has to be there at 9:00. Some of the motions won't be heard till noon so lawyers spend (and bill for!) three hours of sitting around. If this emergency leads to better ways of scheduling and hearing cases, it will be a blessing in disguise.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

In a couple of weeks Judge Roger T. Benitez of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California will be considering an injunction against California's assault weapons ban (Miller vs. Becerra). It's happening in San Diego, and as part of my continuing education in civics I'm planning to join the gallery. I'm drawn to witness what may be a historic moment in the history of Second Amendment rights. I have to wonder, what will be the state of health of US jurisprudence by then? I mean, literally?

Tom T. said...

I've been waiting for an announcement about the Supreme Court limiting it's exposure to the public. As old as some of them are....

effinayright said...

Hmmm...the inability of the courts to function is a key condition for the imposition of martial law....sure hope we don't go down that road, given the hysteria driving this crisis.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Roger Sweeny wrote what I was thinking. I have brought my patients to court hearings at times, and there are a flock of folks and their families, most pretty obviously not very good at controlling their impulses and disciplining their responses. I can see the wisdom of not putting everyone together under one roof with them. The downstream effects worry me.

As for what can be automated...now do psychiatric hospitals.

Fernandistein said...

Forgiveness of late rent seems like something that could fairly be required.

Forced redistribution of money - why has nobody else ever thought of that?!?

We all benefit from people self-isolating in their homes, so it's no time to be throwing people out of their homes.

We all benefit from people having homes rather than being homeless and crapping in strange places, so any time is a good time for the government to decide who involuntarily gets what.

Free college too - it's the right thing to do!