Virtual Courts and Access to Justice


May 26


9:00 am

3:00 pm


University of Illinois College of Law, 504 East Pennsylvania Avenue Champaign, IL, 61820 (Faculty Lounge)



Jason Mazzone, Brian Gaines, and Robin Fretwell Wilson have been leading a large-scale research study on changes that courts adopted in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. They have been especially interested in online judicial proceedings. They have been carefully tracking the benefits of virtual court—as well as their possible downsides—and how different groups may experience virtual court in different ways. Given that many courts are enthusiastic about making virtual hearings permanent at least in some contexts, the overall goal is to generate lessons from the pandemic experience to assist courts in structuring virtual hearings in ways that capitalize on efficiencies while also ensuring fairness and reliability. The workshop will be divided into three sessions, each focused on a particular issue involving virtual courts and access to justice. Each session will start with a brief presentation of the research findings from the study. Then the workshop participants will have an opportunity to discuss and critique the findings and offer their own insights.


9:00 am – 10:30 am Session 1
Overview: What Did We Learn from the
Pandemic Experience?
10:30 am – 10:45 am Break
10:45 am – 12:15 pm Session 2
A Case Study: Evictions
12:15 pm – 1:15 pm Lunch
1:15 pm – 2:45 pm Session 3
Looking Ahead: The Future of Virtual
Proceedings and New Research Directions
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm Conclusions
3:00 pm Departure

Featured Panelists
Hon. Thomas Bruton, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
Brian Farrell, University of Iowa College of Law
Brian Gaines, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Political Science
Sally Kolb, Land of Lincoln Legal Aid
Jason Mazzone, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, College of Law
Mavis Maclean, University of Oxford, Department of Social Policy & Intervention
Hon. Amy McFarland, Illinois 11th Judicial Circuit Court
Matthew Mettler, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Political Science
Ali Mirza, United Community Housing Coalition
Hon. Mike Nerheim, Illinois 19th Judicial Circuit Court
Mark Palmer, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism
Nathanael Player, Utah State Courts Self-Help Center
Hon. Lisa Holder White, Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District
Robin Fretwell Wilson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, College of Law & University of Illinois System, Institute of Government and Public Affairs

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