June 29, 2020 Judicial Division

Chair's Column

RESILIENCE DURING THE PANDEMIC

By Hon. Elizabeth Lang-Miers (Ret.), Dallas, TX

As I write this, we do not know how long the pandemic will control our lives, or if we will ever return to our pre-pandemic normal. It has been a time of terrible tragedy, fear and rapid change. When courts had to close to the public, Judges and court administration quickly implemented procedures to assure continuation of court operations and communications with counsel and litigants. Judges conducted “virtual” proceedings by phone and video conferencing as well as some live proceedings. Judges, court personnel and lawyers learned to communicate through “Zoom” and by many other platforms. There were glitches in the technology and huge learning curves for all of us. Courts adapted swiftly, however, and judges held hearings and dealt with emergencies remotely. What had been a gradual implementation of technology for courts rapidly accelerated and courts adapted quickly. Jurisdictions established systems and methods to allow safe return to courthouses, screening for COVID-19 and reconfiguring courtrooms to satisfy “social distancing” requirements. Courts also established creative plans to safely conduct jury trials from courthouses, auditoriums and other locations.

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