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Access to Justice During COVID-19 and Beyond

In collaboration between the National Center for State Courts and IGPA, Professors Wilson, Jason Mazzone, and Brian Gaines have launched a large-scale examination of how pandemic-related changes to court operations impacted cases and access to the legal system: the COVID-19 and the Operation of Courts Project. A national survey – constructed after two dozen focus groups in Illinois, South Carolina, and Ohio with judges, lawyers, litigants, jurors, and court staff – is presently in the field. The goal is to determine what has worked and what hasn’t. Learning not only from presiding judges, court personnel, and attorneys, but also from litigants themselves, the project is documenting innovative approaches like kiosks pioneered by some jurisdictions to overcome the digital divide. For more information or to share your experience, check out the website here. The continuation of this work has recently received the support through the Chancellor’s Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Research Program in the form of a $100,000 grant. (Co-Principal Investigator with Jason Mazzone, Brian Gaines and Andrea Miller)

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A key preliminary finding is that when court proceedings move online, digital divides exacerbate problems of access to justice.

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