Michigan's 'virtual' courtrooms surpass 500,000 hours of Zoom hearings

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The Michigan Supreme Court announced Tuesday that courts across the state have logged more than 500,000 hours of online hearings since proceedings were moved online in late March. In order to keep the doors to Michigan’s justice system open, judges and other court officers have quickly moved to hold remote proceedings using Zoom in order to prevent spread of COVID-19. Through a series of administrative orders, the court has authorized additional use of remote proceedings while safeguarding the rights of participants.

“Other states are copying Michigan’s example of tapping innovation and creativity to keep the doors of our justice system open,” said Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack. “Achieving 500,000 hours of hearings is just the beginning because our response to the pandemic has created the opportunity to take a giant step forward toward our goals of accessible courts that are efficient and engaged with the local community.”

To maintain public access to virtual court proceedings and limit any potential for disruption, trial courts are livestreaming Zoom proceedings to YouTube. The Virtual Courtroom Directory allows the public to find and view court proceedings statewide using an interactive map that allows users to pick a county or judge and view proceedings. Courts are required to either livestream proceedings to YouTube live or to post a video of those proceedings immediately after the event.

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Diversity and inclusion to serve as the topics of webinar on July 24

“Strategic Plans for Diversity and Inclusion for Your Work Environment” is the topic of a webinar offered by the Oakland County Bar Association on Friday, July 24 from noon to 1 p.m.

The Zoom event will feature three speakers, including Sangeeta Shah, CEO of Brooks Kushman; Kenneth James, director of Inclusion for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce; and Michelle Crockett, hiring chair and principal of Diversity and Professional Development for Miller Canfield. The discussion will be moderated by Kristina Bilowus of Kizy Law.

“Join the discussion and learn from an expert set of panelists who will address strategic plans for firms for diversity and inclusion,” said a spokesperson for the OCBA. “Topics of discussion will include: ways to measure success; lessons to learn from leadership; and methodology for accountability. Additionally, the current COVID-19 pandemic and potential implications for law firms’ efforts will be addressed as this free event.”

To register, visit www.ocba.org or call (248) 334-3400.

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