Reshaping Washington Court Practices During and After COVID-19

Dec 22, 2020 | Firm News

PCVA partner Chris Love has been actively involved in changing the way Washington State courts conduct proceedings during the global pandemic. Forced to adapt to protocols required during the COVID-19, the courts have looked at fundamental changes to proceedings that were previously almost exclusively conducted in-person. Some of these changes have improved access to justice – like remote court hearings, remote jury selection, and remote trials – and may stay in place after the pandemic.

As a member of three important committees – the Board for Judicial Administration Court Recovery Task Force; the Court Recovery Task Force’s Civil Litigation Committee; and the Trial Alternatives and Six Person Jury Incentives Subcommittee – Chris has been instrumental in providing insights into the new court practices.

The Board for Judicial Administration Court Recovery Task Force is a combined group of Washington State Supreme Court Justices; appellate, superior court, district court, and municipal court judges; court administrators and staff; and legal professionals from all practice types and areas of Washington State. The Supreme Court created the task force to assess and formulate emergency solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on court operations and simply keeping courts and their services operational and accessible to the public in this time of crisis.

The Court Recovery Task Force’s Civil Litigation Committee, chaired by Chief Justice Debra Stephens, consists of a group of appellate and superior court judges and attorneys from across Washington State tasked with addressing the pandemic’s effects on every facet of civil litigation, from discovery to remote proceedings and trials.

The Trial Alternatives and Six Person Jury Incentives Subcommittee is dedicated to innovating solutions for the unique challenges the pandemic’s social distancing requirements pose for conducting trials, such as superior courts’ lack of physical facilities for summonsing sufficient numbers of potential jurors for jury selection and safely accommodating necessary court staff, attorneys, parties, witnesses, and members of the public entitled to view the proceedings.