The Magna Carta created jury trials, grand juries, and abolished “trial by ordeal” in 1215. A century later, the Black Plague swept all of Europe. Thus “A Jury of Our Peers” has been the hallmark of justice for more than 4 centuries before the founding of these United States. Today, a new worldwide pandemic is challenging our notion of liberty.
A client asked recently whether we were seeing a recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Truthfully, many lawyers are busier than ever, though not necessarily with new work. Each court in each different county or circuit has set up specific procedures for handling cases. Some courts, immediately set up video conferencing for hearings; others took a bit more time to explore options. Orange County is in the Ninth Circuit while Seminole County is in the 18th Circuit. Each has a different procedure and both vary in how they handle hearings.
Criminal courts in all areas had largely instituted video conferencing for first appearance years ago, but with a pandemic the larger problem is how to provide safe and secure access for those arrested to meet privately with their attorney. All courts in Florida, the Supreme Court, District Courts of Appeal, Circuit and County Courts have been wrestling with how to assure the safety of the public, how to prevent exposure from those infected, how to protect the rights of those accused of crimes and how to protect the due process to assure fair and just hearings. Jury trials are being scheduled but may not occur until 2021 or later. This places our entire judicial system in peril.
Family attorneys began using Collaborative methods is not always easy, but using a team concept and keeping decisions about your family within your control makes collaboration effective in Central Florida. Using Zoom meetings, for coaches, clients and professionals to work out all the details before even filing can allow a much more controllable process and keep the outcome well within your needs.
Divorcing spouses often have difficulty trusting one another, and unfortunately our courts’ adversarial proceedings in litigation tend to further erode openness and trust by encouraging spouses to fight not only for their own interests but also against the interests of their spouse. When Collaboration occurs, the family’s needs are addressed by professionals and the spouses do not have to “trust” the litigation. They only have to trust the professional who are the guardians of the process. The Collaborative Process works, even in pandemic times and 2020.
Pandemics lead to change. How much change occurs depends on your choices and may be impacted by the choices of those around you. Wash your hands; wear a mask; take care of yourself and others. Peace.
Attorney Aubrey Ducker is a partner at CPLS, P.A., and a member of the Firm’s Family and Elder Law Practice Groups. Contact Attorney Ducker today at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.