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Winter Wheeler (left) and Joe Murphey of Miles Mediation. (Courtesy photos) Winter Wheeler (left) and Joe Murphey of Miles Mediation. (Courtesy photos)

In response to the “unprecedented situation” that is the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton effectively closed the state’s court system on March 14.  Unfortunately—and unavoidably—this judicial emergency has led to an immense backlog of cases waiting to be litigated and tried—a position in which most of the country now finds itself. In response, some states are considering the prospect of conducting virtual jury trials for civil cases, with the states of Texas and Florida having already taken concrete steps toward potentially implementing such a system. While we appreciate these states’ willingness to experiment with possible solutions to the ever-growing caseload crisis, virtual jury trials are not a viable replacement for the traditional, in-person model. To understand why, it is important that we look not only look to what is occurring in the courts but also to what is happening in the streets and our communities.

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