Updated: Mar 19, 2020
At this point, everyone on the planet is aware of the Covid-19 coronavirus and its global impact. Here in America, this past week has been a turning point for the handling of this pandemic. Schools are closing down statewide, international travel is on high-alert, and the lives of working people are either already impacted, or about to be.
On March 13, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court issued an administrative order (AOSC20-13) halting court proceedings for two weeks (such as grand jury proceedings and jury trials) and strongly encouraging courts throughout the state to utilize communication equipment for conducting court proceedings by remote electronic means.
The impact of this is significant – all judicial events postponed over the next two weeks will have to be addressed and handled in the future, adding to the caseload the courts already have scheduled for those future dates. The courts will try to conduct a lot of business as usual, but the judges, court staff, and truthfully most attorneys, are ill-prepared to handle hearings via phone or video conference.
The world of mediation is also going to be impacted by this as well; Judge Langham has directed all state mediators to conduct mediations telephonically through March 27, 2020. A telephonic mediation is doable, and doesn’t require too much technological know-how, but it’s less than ideal. Seeing the participants live and being able to share documents instantaneously is an important aspect of mediations.
I personally think Florida is taking the appropriate steps at this time, adding a week to all schools’ Spring Break, but this very well may extend beyond March 27, and into April. People should be prepared on how to handle video conference and phone conference as a way to limit the amount of work that will be postponed/delayed due to the current outbreak. If you feel any sort of uncertainty on what to expect with a video conference, check out my video posted to get comfortable with the process.