ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts announces a series of statewide public hearings to evaluate the technology, practices, and policies adopted by the state courts in response to COVID-19. The first hearing is on Tuesday and is intended to help define the Pandemic Practices Working Group’s (PPWG) goals and objectives moving forward.

The Commission is having a thorough review through its PPWG to make recommendations to the Unified Court System, regarding the use of practices implemented during the pandemic that will benefit the administration of justice in New York State courts going forward. According to the Commission, PPWG seeks input from all stakeholders of New York’s courts, including litigants, the bar, legal services providers, judges, court staff, community groups, law enforcement, associations, and other government and non-government entities.

The Commission says that the PPWG will review existing surveys, data, and reports, inside and outside of New York State, as well as solicit written submissions. The review addresses the pandemic experience in all types of New York courts, including civil and criminal courts, appellate courts, family courts, surrogate courts, housing courts, and town & village courts.

The Commission seeks input at these hearings from interested and knowledgeable individuals, organizations, and other entities about which measures adopted during the pandemic should be carried forth post-COVID. Those who testify at these hearings will have the opportunity to be heard by a panel of judges, court officials, and others who affect, or are impacted by, change in the operation of the New York State Courts.

Topics may include:

  • The impact of court-adopted Covid-19 technology, practices/protocols, and policy on the fair and efficient administration of justice in the state courts, including the use of remote technologies as well as modified in-person procedures for court proceedings.
  • How pandemic practices impacted the efficacy of the New York state courts in providing comprehensive, timely, and accessible legal services, including language access, to all litigants.
  • New or reimagined uses for technology to improve efficiency and access to justice.
  • Blending in-person and virtual practices to meet the varied needs of different court users.
  • The importance of meeting the needs of New Yorkers without consistent access to the technology required for virtual court proceedings, and those who are not familiar with using such technology.
  • The impact of pandemic practices on the work of counsel, judges, and court staff.
  • The use of technology to make courts more accessible for New Yorkers with limited mobility, who live in rural areas, who have childcare obligations, or who otherwise may struggle to attend court proceedings in person.
  • The need for increased instruction and training on the use of technology for courtroom proceedings, for both litigants and legal services providers.

The first hearing will take place on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. Virtual listening sessions are to be announced.