As states begin to issue partial restart orders, more than 3,200 people from state, federal, and international courts recently attended the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ)/Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) Pandemic Rapid Recovery Team’s webinar on planning for resuming normal court operations – the first of several to help courts as the coronavirus pandemic curve flattens and courts expand their services. At this point, there are more questions than answers, but it’s clear to court leaders that the pandemic will lead to changes—some known and some unknown.
The webinar focused on nine factors that courts should consider to help them decide when and how to expand services, and webinar attendees received this document, which outlined the factors. They include the health of court employees, scheduling, criteria for in-person hearings, vulnerable populations, social distancing, hygiene supplies, health screenings, face coverings, and cleaning courthouses. During the webinar, three topics surfaced more than others: 1) screening the public; 2) resuming jury trials; and 3) collaborating with local health officials
SJI continues to provide support for the RRT as an important resource to state courts. In addition, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has a pandemic website available that is cataloging state court actions to address the pandemic.