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The Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on State & Local Courts Study 2021

“A new report from the Thomson Reuters Institute looks at how the global pandemic impacted the nation’s court system around remote hearings, legal technology, case backlogs, and access to justice When the COVID-19 pandemic completely upended the world, it also upended the nation’s courts system. Courthouses closed, proceedings were halted, and judicial life came to a standstill. As we waited for guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to proceed, safety was top of mind. As a former trial attorney, I immediately thought of those who would be most greatly impacted by lack of access to the courts, including families hoping to adopt a child through family court proceedings; victims trying to escape their abusers; prisoners suffering in overcrowded prisons; and new businesses entrepreneurs working to open their doors. Now, more than 1½ years later, the Thomson Reuters Institute sought to learn how the pandemic impacted state and local court houses and what measures courts took to keep their dockets moving. In June 2021, we surveyed approximately 240 court professionals — judges and chief justices, magistrates, court administrators, attorneys, and clerks of the court — at the state, county, and municipal courts level, representing a broad cross-section of the judicial community…”

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