June, 2021

CJRI Newsletter

May, 2021

How Justice Amy Coney Barrett Is Already Changing the Supreme Court

During a panel at the Northern District of California’s virtual conference, Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Melissa Murray of NYU School of Law outlined how the justice’s presence has shifted the high court’s institutional dynamics.

February, 2021

CJRI Newsletter

CJRI's February '21 Newsletter

February 17, 2021

California's Shifting Relationship With the Supreme Court

CJRI Chair and Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky discusses what Californians can expect from the Supreme Court with the New York Times.

Civil Justice News from 2020
November 20, 2020

U.S. Courts Close Doors, Cancel Juries as Virus Surges

Bloomberg Law reports on courts across the U.S. suspending in-person operations due to rising COVID-19 cases, with many jury trials being canceled, postponed, or moved to a remote format. Courtrooms are often not large enough to accommodate the social distancing of jurors, and in numerous states such as Texas, Arkansas, and Illinois, jury trials were suspended after multiple jurors tested positive for COVID-19. For several state court judges and administrators, their experiences during the first wave of COVID-19 in March helped them prepare for the current rise in cases, and they hope to adapt and innovate to ensure access to justice during these difficult times. According to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, "Justice isn't a place, it's a service, and you can't shut down justice."

November 1, 2020

In Their Words: How Lawyers Are Handling Virtual Trials

Law.com reports on the challenges lawyers face during virtual trials, which are being held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and present unique difficulties concerning access to technology and jury selection. Preparing for a virtual trial requires lawyers and jurors to adapt to using technology they may not be familiar with. These trials pose added obstacles such as internet connectivity problems, technical difficulties, and having to remotely screen-share exhibits. Moreover, virtual jury trials are often less accessible and representative, since jury pools are limited to those with access to adequate technology.

October 16, 2020

Recognizing Widespread Benefits, Officials See Continued Role for Virtual Court Proceedings

Law.com reports on the Clio Cloud Conference’s "Future of Virtual Courts" panel discussion held on October 15th. Panelists discussed the benefits of virtual court proceedings and how online hearings, which help reduce access-to-justice disparities, may continue even after the COVID-19 pandemic eventually ends. According to panelist and Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, "There are some fairness metrics that online hearings are far and away doing better than courthouse hearings." Virtual hearings and online courts have simplified pathways to justice for litigants who may feel overwhelmed by the legal system — especially for self-represented litigants, an online format is often less intimidating to navigate.

October 4, 2020

5 Supreme Court Access to Justice Cases to Watch

Law 360 reports on upcoming Supreme Court cases this term addressing access to justice and civil rights issues such as unreasonable searches and seizures, non unanimous juries, and religious freedom. In Torres v. Madrid, argued on October 14th, the justices heard arguments about whether police officers who shot at a woman's fleeing car violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable seizures. In Edwards v. Vannoy, to be argued on November 30th, the Court will decide whether one of its previous rulings declaring non unanimous jury verdicts to be unconstitutional should be applied retroactively. In FNU Tanzin v. Tanvir, a freedom of religion case argued on October 6th, the justices considered whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act gives Muslim-American individuals the right to seek monetary damages from FBI agents who allegedly placed them on a no-fly list after they refused to provide information about other Muslims.

September 25, 2020

Calif. Judicial Council Moves to Expand Remote Court Access

Law 360 reports on the California Judicial Council’s expansion of the use of video technologies in non-criminal proceedings. The CJC’s Information Advisory Technology Committee tasked a Remote Video Appearances Workstream with examining appearances via video conferencing and to make recommendations regarding state-wide expansion of such technologies. The workstream has received generally positive feedback from participants in mock hearings, but recommended refinement of exhibit sharing, a rule amendment allowing video appearances in family law proceedings, and exploring this type of appearance in criminal proceedings. The past several months have seen 52% of respondents to a survey sent to trial courts using some kind of remote video conferencing, experiences which could be instructive for further use of such technologies.