Coronavirus and the courts

CJ Hecht

“Since the onset of the pandemic, courts throughout the country have determined to stay open to deliver justice without faltering, no matter the adjustments and sacrifices demanded, but also to protect staff … and the public from the risks of disease. We are learning new technology and practices together.”
Texas Chief Justice Nathan Hecht
President of the Conference of Chief Justices
Chair of NCSC Board of Directors
Co-chair of the national Pandemic Rapid Response Team

  • 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.