Coronavirus and the courts

mccormack

Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack captured the sentiment felt by many in the state court community about the impact the pandemic has had on courts, when she said the pandemic was not the disruption we wanted, but the disruption we needed.”
About the Pandemic Rapid Response Team

In March 2019, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators established a Rapid Response Team (RRT), staffed by NCSC, that created a roadmap to help state courts move forward during the pandemic – and after it ends. Through three working groups – court management, technology, and communications and funding – the RRT has identified and developed innovations and new practices that will strengthen courts moving forward.

NCSC collected hundreds of emergency orders from state Supreme Courts as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. While almost all of them have either expired or been superseded by newer orders, you can access the entire collection here, or you can review selected orders by issue area here.

  • NCSC hosted a Facebook live event on March 5 to discuss the impact the coronavirus is having on courts and what courts can do in response. The event, which was sponsored by the State Justice Institute, featured Nora Sydow, a Principal Court Management Consultant and staff to the CCJ/COSCA 2016 Pandemic and Emergency Response Task Force and project director for the 2019 CCJ/COSCA National Pandemic Summit.
  • This Preparing for a Pandemic blueprint guides state and local court leaders without an existing pandemic benchbook to create one, and prompts states with a benchbook to keep it updated. (Appendix B provides templates and checklists).
  • The Texas benchbook was updated in 2020.

For two days in May 2019, Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican hosted the National Pandemic Summit at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, home to the country’s largest biocontainment unit. The summit, which now looks to be ahead of its time, brought court leaders, public health officials, legislators, and executive branch officials from 25 states and three territories together to start a conversation on how states need to plan and prepare for a pandemic, which often includes quarantines that raise many potential legal issues. The summit, the first-of-its-kind, was funded through a grant from the State Justice Institute and staffed by the National Center for State Courts.

Go here to read more about the summit.

Contact Us

Have information to share about how your court is responding?  Submit it to pandemic@ncsc.org.
MEDIA INQUIRIES: Please contact Lorri Montgomery at 757-262-8694.