Enhancing Court Access

COVID-19 promising practices

Service providers have adapted to challenges during the pandemic using technology and creativity. New innovations in technology have allowed survivors to file protection or restraining orders in the civil legal system. Assessing promising practices and the impact of the pandemic is critical to survivors receiving safety and justice from the legal system. 

Court innovations

This article “Court innovations and access to justice in times of crisis”,  from the Newcastle Law School, discusses the impact of COVID-19 on justice systems across the globe including how courts shifted from in-person proceedings to virtual proceedings. Assessing the impact of the pandemic on justice is critical because survivors often turn to the legal system to find safety and justice. 

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Service providers

This brief from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, “Promising practices from victims services providers’ COVID-19 response: Protecting victims and those who serve them”, focuses on the challenges victim service providers face throughout the pandemic and how they adapted. Some of the challenges include increased stress on staff, how some critical services require in-person interaction, and barriers to broadband internet service. 

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This report, “How courts embraced technology, met the pandemic challenge, and revolutionized their operations” is based on a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. It reviews how civil legal systems used new technology to make courts more accessible. There are several findings such as courts leveraging technology to stay open and improve participation while technology made the civil legal system more difficult to navigate for some communities. Many survivors access the civil legal system to file protection or restraining orders so understanding how technology impacts these systems is important. 

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Impact: A case study

This report, “The impact of COVID-19 on victim serving agencies across indiana”, from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute analyzed data collected from almost 200 hundred victim service providers in the state of Indiana. The majority of the victim-serving providers surveyed were organizations that served survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. It’s crucial to collect this type of data to assess and improve responses to survivors of gender-based violence. 

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Virtual justice

This article, “Trials by video link after the pandemic: The Pros and cons of the expansion of virtual justice” from the China-EU Law Journal, is a peer-reviewed publication. It goes over the possible outcomes of the digitization of criminal justice systems throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the issues discussed include how virtual justice diminishes human interaction and may affect the legitimacy of a trial. 

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The Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) published the “Guiding Principles for Post-Pandemic Court Technology” to better guide state courts as they moved services to remote and virtual operations. These principles are intended to help courts embrace online platforms critical to pandemic responses and remote readiness and to ensure technology solutions are appropriately adopted as they become long-term fixtures in the court system.

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