Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 30

"

FEATURE

D.C. Superior Court's Judge Morin was heading a task force looking
at how to reinstitute jury trials in a way that's safe for the jurors. One
imagines a warren of plexiglass, masks, social distancing, and tight
control over who is coming into the courthouse and where they
are going.
"We are looking at ways to thoughtfully and carefully begin to plan
for more onsite operations, reopening in a way that's safe and that
encourages social distancing. We're not there yet. We still have a ways
to go on that end," Blackburne-Rigsby says.
Cole of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program says the crisis has
transformed, and will continue to transform, courts and the delivery of
legal services. "It's not going to look like it looked before. There's just no
way that we come out of this with it looking the same way," Cole says.
"We will discover new efficiencies. We'll make use of those efficiencies,
and we will be far better at what we do than we were before, especially
under emergency circumstances, because now we'll have tools and we
will have thought through all those issues."
The path out of the coronavirus crisis into a future defined by better
access to the courthouse through smarter, more pervasive use of technology will require leadership. At a virtual forum hosted by the D.C. Bar in
June, all three candidates for the D.C. Superior Court chief judge position
acknowledged the pain the courthouse shutdowns were causing, but
they also identified opportunities for transformation.

Courtesy of D.C. Access to Justice Commission

"It is a very ominous time, let us be honest, that we are living in," said
Judge Anita Josey-Herring, who will begin her term as chief judge on
October 1. "We are facing quite a few crises, and although some of these
crises could really cause us to unravel, we are very fortunate that we have
a very strong bench, a bar, and other organizations in a community that
have a shared history of working together in getting things done."

"

So many people lost jobs.
Health problems. Domestic
violence issues. All of this
is going to jump up. . . .
When the courts get going,
we are definitely going
to need as many lawyers as we can put together
for that.
PETER EDELMAN
D.C. Access to Justice Commission

30 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

Courtesy of Bread for the City

was unclear what course the pandemic would take as infection rates,
which had trended down during the shutdown, began to move back
up as states and the District started reopening their economies.

It is a challenge as an
attorney to figure out how
to advocate in a context that
is way more controlled. . . .
But as an attorney, part of
my job is figuring out when
to jump in and push an issue or repeat or advocate
more strongly for a position, and that is really hard
in a video context.
TRACY DAVIS
Bread for the City
Judge Milton Lee said he expects the courthouse's "pivot to a virtual
world" will become the new normal that judges and lawyers alike will
"need to embrace together."
"We almost immediately changed the human footprint in the
courthouse, and while we were not able to give you the same level
of access that you enjoyed before the pandemic, we worked incredibly
hard to make sure that our core services were available across each
of the divisions," Lee said.
To be sure, while the Superior Court has succeeded in its first steps
toward introducing technology, it has not been without missteps and
hard lessons learned about the limits of the court's IT infrastructure and
the growing need of District residents.
"Our community is in a lot of pain," said Judge Lynn Liebovitz during
the June virtual forum. "The pandemic has exposed cruel disparities in
access to housing, to jobs, and to health care for the litigants who come
to our court."
Most litigants in Superior Court are not represented by lawyers. Indeed,
the numbers are staggering, according to the D.C. Access to Justice
Commission - 88 percent of petitioners and 95 percent of respondents
in the Domestic Violence Division were self-represented in 2017. Similar
numbers prevail in other divisions of the court.
But this crisis also showed that the D.C. Courts can adapt and change.
"We changed overnight to a virtual courthouse, and all of the moxie, IT
smarts, and leadership that it took to get us here are going to be necessary to take us back to full operations," Liebovitz said.

William Roberts is a regular contributor to Washington Lawyer.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020



Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
ABA Delegates Corner
Calendar of Events
Re-Envisioning the Bar Exam feature
The New Normal in Legal Education feature
On Shaky Ground feature
How the Pandemic Has Transformed Courts Feature
The Science of Why Clients Ignore Counsel's Advice feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight - Susan Biniaz
Member Spotlight - Whit Washington
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Speaking of Ethics
Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - ABA Delegates Corner
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Re-Envisioning the Bar Exam feature
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - The New Normal in Legal Education feature
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - On Shaky Ground feature
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - How the Pandemic Has Transformed Courts Feature
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - The Science of Why Clients Ignore Counsel's Advice feature
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 43
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Member Spotlight - Susan Biniaz
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Member Spotlight - Whit Washington
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 50
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Cover4
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/septemberoctober2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/November2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/july2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/february2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2016/
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2016
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com