Justice need not be delayed in days of COVID-19
April 6, 2020
By Elizabeth A. Kaveny
In our COVID-19 world of today, everything is delayed — schools, routine, and sometimes acute medical care and the daily pace of life, overall. Yet, for the most part, we are trying to make due … with accommodations.
In Illinois and throughout the country, civil courts have been closed. While this may seem a non-essential service during these times, the true necessity of our trial courts comes into full view. Closed courtrooms affect us all. The delay in bringing to ‘justice’ those cases that have had a profound effect on individuals and families leads us, trial attorneys, to continue to look for ways to serve our clients.
What are you doing to carry on in the pursuit of justice? This is a question I ask myself on a daily basis before I flip on my computers and bring my virtual office to life. I think of my clients; the mother of a child who sits in a wheelchair unable to breathe, walk or speak on her own due to the negligence of her caregivers. The father who is left to care for his three minor children and hold their lives together after a drunk driver killed his wife on her way to the grocery store. They suffer every day in their own crisis, now only compounded by COVID-19.
How can I ensure that their stories are told, and justice and relief be delivered to them?
Our hands need not be tied. We can still operate in full accordance with our restrictions using the plethora of technology at our fingertips.
We can take depositions remotely. Depositions are the cornerstone of civil cases without which justice grinds to a halt. Client meetings, witness interviews, pretrial hearings can all occur via technology platforms. We can even conduct mediations through virtual private conference rooms. We can virtually “hold the hand” of our clients, those who have already suffered so much, long before the first case of COVID-19 had even be detected.
But, the restrictions cannot be the impetus that allows anyone to try and skirt their responsibilities. Just as our own governor, J.B. Pritzker, recently gave an executive order declaring that remote notaries are acceptable to allow crucial transactions to continue, so must we continue to push for judicial declarations nationwide mandating that depositions shall proceed, using technology.
Remember, it is the Sixth Amendment to our Constitution which guarantees the right to a speedy trial when it comes to criminal cases. We hold this quite dear, and we have the resources and expertise to execute this on behalf of our civil cases as well.
We cannot fail our clients, whose cases will slip further away during this time, and even after the courts’ resume, due to the predicted backlog of cases needing to be heard.
Justice need not be delayed.