Last month we discussed how the pandemic forever changed the landscape of the court system in New York State.
The court system’s released report from the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts Pandemic Practices Working Group’s (“PPWG”) has sparked change.
The New York Courts have established the Blue-Ribbon Committee to Improve Administration of Justice.
Acting Chief Judge Anthony Cannataro and Acting Chief Administrative Judge Tamiko Amaker recently announced the establishment of a blue-ribbon team of experts tasked with implementing recommendations from the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts’ Pandemic Practices Working Group.
The Court Modernization Action Committee (CMAC) comprises leaders of the court system and the bar, members of the community, court users, and justice partners. Supreme Court Justice Craig Doran of the Seventh Judicial District will chair the new committee.
The recommendations from the Commission's report include:
- Expanding and encouraging the use of virtual court proceedings;
- Improving the functioning of remote proceedings;
- Creating alternatives for court users to access virtual proceedings and other court resources;
- Developing accessibility for people who require special accommodations;
- Enhancing systems for communicating with and supporting court users;
- Ensuring appropriate public access to virtual proceedings;
- Amplifying the use of electronic filing of cases, investing in locally appropriate modernization projects that will permit courthouses to better support virtual;
- hybrid, and in-person proceedings, improving training and technical support for judges, court staff, and court users;
- Implementing a detailed plan for responding to a future pandemic or other court disruption; and
- Appropriating and earmarking supplemental funds for court modernization and emergency preparedness.
This is a vital step towards modernizing the court system while also improving access to justice in New York. By implementing the Commission's recommendations, the court system can become more efficient, effective, and user-friendly, and better prepared to handle future contingencies.
Expanding and encouraging the use of virtual court proceedings is a significant recommendation that could have a significant impact on the administration of justice in New York. Virtual court proceedings can increase access to justice, reduce costs, and save time for court users. However, to ensure that virtual proceedings are used effectively, it is necessary to bring greater transparency and consistency to their use, improve their functioning, and expand alternatives for court users to access virtual proceedings and other court resources. The CMAC will work to implement these recommendations, which could significantly improve the experience of litigants and save time and money
Another recommendation is improving accessibility for people who require special accommodations. Ensuring that the court system is accessible to everyone is essential for providing equal access to justice. By enhancing systems for communicating with and supporting court users and improving the court system's website, the court system can become more user-friendly and accessible to people who require special accommodations. Court users with disabilities and special needs will create a greater impact in their judicial experience.
CMAC is also calling for increased use of electronic filing of cases is another important recommendation that could save time and money for court users. We already know that filing documents electronically reduces paper filings that are time-consuming and expensive is important. However, some courts are still behind the times not fully utilizing the capabilities of e-filling.
Investing in locally appropriate modernization projects that will permit courthouses to better support virtual, hybrid, and in-person proceedings is another vital recommendation. With investing in modernization projects, the court system will become more adaptable and more equipped to handle future contingencies.
It cannot be overstated how beneficial implementing the recommendations would significantly improve the court system’s ability to provide efficient, effective, and user-friendly services.