Justice positive toward remote court proceedings

Florida Supreme Court Justice Jamie Grosshans said the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the judiciary to adapt and expressed optimism that some remote court options could become permanent.

During an interview with Mainstreet Daily News at Santa Fe College, Grosshans said Florida’s judges are better serving the public because of innovations like remote hearings.

“COVID changed a lot, too, because now the magic of Zoom was forced on the judicial system in a hurry,” Grosshans said.

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She said the judiciary dislikes change, but that aversion didn’t compromise the benefits of remote hearings.

“Instead of taking time off work or finding childcare to travel to the courthouse and wait to deal with a traffic ticket, people can pause and jump on a hearing from where they are,” she said.

Grosshans said not spending half a day on a small legal issue is a huge change.

“I think in the judicial system, we’re always trying to figure out the best way to serve the people,” Grosshans said.

That could mean some changes become permanent. This week the Florida Bar reported a rules petition filed by a Supreme Court workgroup could provide continued and even broader access to remote hearings.

In his state of the judiciary message, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady said the system is trying to discover its new, post-pandemic normal.

“I think there’s been some real innovation forced upon us, but in a good way,” Grosshans said Thursday night. “Solutions to make justice more accessible to people, I think, is one of the few good things that may have come out of the past two years.”

Grosshans said it was a “pending issue” for Florida’s judicial system.

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