Wednesday, May 13, 2020
This blog post might provide you with information you already know. The information is new to me, which made me think sharing it might assist others as well. As I was looking at the Louisiana Supreme Court’s website recently, a reference caught my eye. That reference was to the publication, “Preparing for a Pandemic: An Emergency Response Benchbook and Operational Guidebook for State Court Judges and Administrators.” The publication can be downloaded here: https://ncsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/facilities/id/194.
A team from the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators worked on a Pandemic and Emergency Response Task Force to create this document, which was published by the National Center for State Courts in 2016! That date caught my eye because, like so many of you, I have been stunned over the past few months (yes, months that sometimes feel like years) by what has been going on in the world: stunned by the magnitude of this pandemic. And now, I am stunned by the fact that this group created this resource four years ago that is so relevant to what the world is experiencing in 2020.
The benchbook/guidebook urges state courts to create their own books tailored to their states in which they include both federal and state laws that will be relevant should a pandemic occur. It raises issues to be considered in a pandemic, such as maintaining constitutional protections during a pandemic; operating courts during a pandemic; searches, seizures, and other government actions to maintain public health; and jurisdiction of public health issues. It suggests that courts create certain model orders and court rules to use in the event of a pandemic. It also provides a resources list that includes citations to state courts that already had such plans back then. From back in 2016, it discusses and suggests many of the things that we are now discussing and suggesting.
I highly recommend you review this document, if you have not already seen it. Perhaps it will be helpful to you in your law practice, in your law school, in your court, and even in your personal life as you grapple with and consider issues that do not often present themselves. Thank you to the National Center for State Courts https://www.ncsc.org/, the Conference of Chief Justices https://ccj.ncsc.org/, and the Conference of State Court Administrators https://cosca.ncsc.org/ for thinking ahead. I only wish we did not need your good book.