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Outside the Phillip Burton Federal Building on April 13, 2020, under the statewide shelter-in-place order. Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically disrupted our courts. Courthouses have been closed; hearings have been conducted with minimal staffing, held remotely or postponed; and court personnel have scrambled to work from home. Federal courts, which long have resisted electronic access and virtual proceedings, suddenly have had to implement emergency measures to facilitate them.

It would be disappointing if these measures simply were abandoned when the current circumstances have passed. While their first priority must be assuring the safety of court users and court staff, the courts also have an invaluable opportunity to study new ways of doing their work. 

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