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Accessing Justice with Zoom: Experiences and Outcomes in Online Civil Courts (2023)


The global COVID-19 pandemic brought significant change to our civil justice system, particularly in the rapid shift from in-person to remote court proceedings. Courts across the country, facing the unprecedented challenge of a global health emergency, embraced rapid innovation and the adoption of remote proceeding platforms, such as Zoom and Webex. State courts did so across case types, including within high-volume civil dockets containing evictions, debt collections, small claims, and family law cases, where millions of self-represented and unrepresented litigants encounter the U.S. civil justice system each year. Amid the pandemic, voices converged to encourage these justice innovations, including the voices of Supreme Court justices, state court administrators, and access to justice reformers who reimagined judicial administration with these new technologies. Concurrently, given this rapid national experiment, challenges ensued, complicated by inexperience with these platforms prior to the pandemic and vexing digital divides.

This report enters the national conversation at an especially crucial time: state supreme courts and court administrators are actively deliberating on what the new normal will entail post-pandemic.