The COVID-19 Pandemic, the Courts and Online Hearings: Maintaining Open Justice, Procedural Fairness and Impartiality
Forthcoming (2021) Federal Law Review
25 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2020
Date Written: 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing mandated health protections saw courts turn to communications technology as a means to be able to continue to function. However, courts are unique institutions that exercise judicial power in accordance with the rule of law. Even in a pandemic courts need to function in a manner consistent with their institutional role and its essential characteristics. This article uses the unique circumstances brought about by the pandemic to consider how courts can embrace technology but maintain the core or essential requirements of a court. This article identifies three essential features of courts - open justice, procedural fairness and impartiality – and examines how this recent adoption of technology has maintained or challenged those essential features. This examination allows for both an assessment of how the courts operated during the pandemic, but also provides guidance for making design decisions about a technology-enabled future court.
Keywords: COVID-19, communications, technology, pandemic, technology-enabled, future, court, online, hearings, open justice, procedural fairness, impartiality
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation