The judicial system has been completely disrupted by the pandemic, and one judge in Louisiana has adapted by going virtual in a big way.
Judge Scott U. Schlegel, who presides in the 24th Judicial District in Gretna LA, has launched the website www.onlinejudge.us. Its tagline says: “Introducing a new way to practice law and access the Civil Justice System.”
Visitors to the Online Judge site can access the court’s calendar, read FAQs, attend video hearings, e-file pleadings and join the court and opposing counsel on a shared channel for a “perpetual status conference.”
There is also an “Attend Court Online” button. Attorneys have to sign a virtual “Sign-in Sheet” before entering the virtual courtroom, and then they are escorted to a virtual waiting room until their case is called.
Be looking for our email newsletter “Practice Reimagined,” which offers timely tips, pointers and valuable links to help you navigate the new normal. It even contains a section on Wellness to help you and your team stay safe and healthy in these troubling times.
The Online Judge is In Session
Following are a few other features from the Online Judge website:
- You can schedule a virtual civil hearing. There are drop-down calendars for scheduling pre-trial hearings, status conferences and motions. You’re given a confirmation number when it’s done. .
- It is Zoom based. From the site: “If you are using your phone or tablet, you need to DOWNLOAD the Zoom App. If you are using a computer, you need to DOWNLOAD the Zoom Client for Meetings. Please download Zoom days before court to make sure that it works properly.”
- Proper attire is required for all virtual appearances.
- Here are the instructions for introducing evidence at a virtual hearing: “If you need to submit evidence into the record during a virtual hearing, plan ahead. Typically, evidence that may be offered during a pretrial hearing is already in the record as it was attached to the motion and memorandum. The court will rule on its admissibility during the hearing. If other evidence needs to be introduced at the time of the hearing, however, make sure you are familiar with how to share your screen and how to provide a copy of the exhibit to the court and opposing counsel.”
- There is a Shared Slack Channel where all counsel can join Judge Schlegel and his staff for a “perpetual status conference.” From the site: “This is your opportunity to practice law in an asynchronous manner and gain access to the court and opposing counsel on your own time. This new way of practicing law should also provide you with the opportunity to resolve your case in less time than the traditional model.”
Lawyers in North Carolina should bookmark the Judicial Branch of North Carolina website: https://www.nccourts.gov/covid-19.
Following are some of the Emergency Directives issued by NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley affecting operations of the trial courts. NOTE: these directives were in effect as of the date of this writing. As you know, everything is in flux. Check the NC Courts website regularly for news, changes and updates. Make sure you know the rules, procedures and directives that may affect you, your clients and your cases.
- No jury trials will be held before October 1.
- Courts must allow for social distancing when scheduling cases.
- Many hearings can now be conducted online by teleconference.
- Documents that ordinarily require a notary can be submitted with a signed statement under penalty of perjury.
- Some documents can be served on another party or attorney by email.
- Pending bond forfeitures are stayed until September 30.
- Filings submitted by mail will be timely if received within 5 days of the due date.
- Magistrates may require appointments and limit the hours available for marriages.
- Clerks may require appointments and limit the hours that public records are available.
- Hearings in summary ejectment actions (evictions) may be scheduled within 30 days, rather than the usual 7 days.
Jay Reeves is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Now he writes and speaks at CLEs, keynotes and in-firm presentations on lawyer professionalism and well-being. He runs Your Law Life LLC, a training and consulting company that helps lawyers add purpose, profits and peace of mind to their practices. Contact email@example.com or 919-619-2441.