While our country continues to struggle with quarantine due to COVID-19, the civil justice system is perhaps contemplating the concept of remote jury trials. Could this idea work? If so, what logistical issues must be addressed?
In a recent op-ed on Law360, Attorneys Paula Hinton and Tom Melshimer opined that remote jury trials are NOT the solution to the current civil case backlog, and here are just a few of the arguments against remote jury trials:
- Access to the internet and technology is inconsistent at best
- Data indicates that 10% of Americans do not use the internet
- Jurors should not be eliminated from the pool due to technology – we need to maintain a diverse jury pool to ensure justice is done
- Difficulties when multiple people are speaking at the same time
- Judges could not maintain control over the virtual environment
The authors instead recommend a return to in-person jury trials ONLY when a safe, in-person environment is available. Many jurisdictions are already contemplating what possible safety measures are needed. These include:
- Sending out more summons anticipating that a higher number of jurors may not be able to attend
- Checking everyone’s temperature upon arrival
- Requiring everyone to wear masks
- Conducting daily deep clean of the courtroom and deliberation room
- Expanding the traditional jury box to allow for distanced seating.
The entire article is available here.
Justice cannot remain on hold indefinitely, but we need to approach the resumption of jury trials with the proper care and caution our current circumstances demand. Advocate Capital, Inc. is proud to support the important work of trial lawyers across the country, and we continue our pledge as 7th Amendment Advocates who applaud and appreciate every effort to maintain access to the civil justice system for all citizens.
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