On November 6, 2022, Professors Jason Mazzone and Robin Fretwell Wilson co-authored (along with Brian Gaines and Matthew Mettler) an op-ed for the Austin-American Statesman regarding a proposal by the Texas Supreme Court to make virtual courts permanent for certain matters. An excerpt follows:
We are not surprised that the Texas Supreme Court has proposed making permanent some experiments undertaken out of necessity during the COVID pandemic. Recently proposed changes to Texas civil procedure, to be implemented in 2023, acknowledge that remote, mainly online procedures, bring benefits. Through focus groups, interviews, and surveys, we discovered that many court users, including judges, attorneys, and litigants and defendants, found online court procedures more convenient and efficient than in-person hearings, especially after a difficult transition period early in 2020.
One Texas-based attorney told us “It can’t be emphasized enough how much virtual proceedings made it easier for litigants to access justice.” Texas lawyers particularly praised the benefits of online court for vulnerable individuals: one noted “Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other types of crimes felt much safer testifying over the internet.” We heard also that virtual proceedings facilitate participation by individuals with disabilities.
Just the same, there are risks to video court, and major changes in procedure must be structured to acknowledge these, minimizing unintended bad consequences.
Read the full op-ed at statesman.com.