The NY Court System was forever changed during the pandemic, and many attorneys wondered about the aftermath of these changes as the pandemic ceased.
Well, look no further as the court system released a report from the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts Pandemic Practices Working Group’s (“PPWG”).
The PPWG is an esteemed group of judges, lawyers, and court administrators led by Judge Craig J. Doran of the Seventh Judicial Group.
The report outlines the various practices and strategies that the courts have implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the continuation of justice while prioritizing the health and safety of court staff, attorneys, and litigants.
To come to their conclusion, the PPWG “Conducted 30 remote listening sessions, heard testimony from over 300 people and organizations, and reviewed thousands of documents.”
It is no secret that New York Courts have been struggling to modernize their systems to keep up with the demands of the digital age.
As a result, the pandemic forced the Court to take a hard look at how they handle situations calling for the use of technology.
And as a result, the court did successfully implement virtual and remote proceedings whether it was videoconferencing, virtual calendar calls or telephonic appearances to ensure the continuation of justice while also prioritizing the health and safety of court staff, attorneys, and litigants.
As attorneys will rejoice, the report encourages the continued use of virtual court proceedings.
In addition, the proposal encourages the following:
- “Improving the functioning of remote proceedings”
- “Expanding alternatives for court users to access virtual proceedings and other court resources”
- “Improving accessibility for people who require special accommodations”
- “Expanding the use of electronic filing”
- “Improve training and technical support for judges, court staff, and court users”
Certainly, the largest challenge is the litigants that have access to technology.
In addition, there are various counties where access is not consistent and many remote areas which lack high-speed internet. This also has a profound impact on accessibility to litigants.
It is important to know that the PPWG does mention that this obstacle must be dealt with accordingly for the expansion.
With the increase in technology, it will continue to enable attorneys to participate in court proceedings from remote locations. Reducing the need for travel will save time and money, for both attorneys, and their clients..
Surprisingly the report notes that a majority of litigants found virtual proceedings more convenient and accessible.
It is no surprise that the report also highlights the increase in e-filing systems to reduce in-person interactions. We have seen the benefits in counties whose e-filing procedures are robust and well-organized.
Furthermore, the report discusses the expansion of the court's Help Centers, which provide pro se litigants with legal information and assistance. Undoubtedly this will benefit attorneys by ensuring that self-represented parties have a better understanding of the legal system and the issues at hand. The help centers also effectively reduce the likelihood of mistakes and misunderstandings that could cause delays or require additional work from attorneys.
Overall, the practices and strategies outlined in the report have made the court system more efficient, accessible, and responsive to the needs of attorneys and litigants.
By investing in technology and innovative practices, the court system can continue to improve and provide better service to those who rely on it, including attorneys.