Civil court cases have been drastically affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the country, courts have curtailed operations to handle only critical criminal cases, leaving civil cases to collect dust in courthouse filing cabinets. During this unprecedented courtroom closure, attorneys are working remotely, handling what they can via phone or virtual meeting services. Some courts may even move a case or two remotely, holding pre-trial or status conferences and some motions by phone or Internet conference. So, not all the news is bad, right? Wrong!
Although law firms may work remotely and some effort is being made to move cases forward, the process has slowed, almost to a standstill. Discovery is being delayed; trials are adjourned indefinitely because cases cannot be tried. Insurance companies can sit on their money because plaintiff lawyers have little power (without a judge or jury) to force them to trial, mediation, or to commence settlement negotiations.