Distasio Law - July 2020

JULY 2020

(813) 259-0022 | www.distasiofirm.com LIFE & THE LAW

Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied Why the Legal System Must Be Willing to Change

thing that gets them to address the damage or be willing to pay is having a court date and moving toward it. But without court dates, justice is being denied. That can’t be allowed to happen, so the courts are finding ways to do something about it. Even the most conservative of judges realize they cannot let the defense take advantage of the current situation. Most are trying to at least do little things to enforce resolution, but it’s no secret that the court systems have been long resistant to adopting new technology. Now, the coronavirus has forced their hand, and incredible — albeit still slow— changes are being made to a system that has remained largely the same for decades. When it comes to things like depositions, hearings, and mediations, more progressive judges have been adopting videoconferencing technology. Those who are less progressive have at least pushed to use the telephone. There are ways for evidence to be shared and testimony to be heard that no longer involve everyone being in the same room together. This may not seem like an exciting new change, but it’s the beginning of something potentially powerful. These technological adoptions change the arena for how the justice system can carry out its proceedings, and in my opinion, it’s for the better.

There’s no denying that the coronavirus has brought about a lot of changes. Individuals, businesses, and organizations everywhere have had to alter their routines or operations to some degree in response to safety measures. When it comes to personal injury law, there certainly have been fewer new cases because when people stay home, fewer accidents and injuries take place. But the grander scope of change has been occurring with those cases that are already in motion. Because social distancing is preventing people from gathering in courtrooms, insurance companies and defendants in personal injury cases are trying to stall out. They claim they shouldn’t have to pay up if they can’t be taken to court or if a case can’t be made as it traditionally would be. But the resounding issue behind this thinking is that justice delayed is justice denied. It’s a founding principal of our legal system, and one that can’t be overlooked — no matter how much things change. If you can’t secure a court date, then you have no leverage to force a defendant to take any responsibility in a civil case. When nothing is being done to lead to a resolution, evidence sits around and gets stale, witnesses’memories fade, and there’s less and less burden for the defense to prove anything. When someone is accused of wrongdoing, typically the only

It takes a lot of valuable time and money for everyone involved in a case to drive to court, park their car, wait for the judge, carry out the proceedings, drive back home, and likely have to do it all again and again until a resolution is reached. But if parties involved can do everything from home, it creates more time, energy, and resources for addressing many more cases much more quickly. There’s no denying how useful these new practices could become, and I think we may very well see these new technologies rooted in the system over time. As it goes, great change takes time. Right now, there are only a few trials throughout Florida just starting to show evidence via video. Jury trials are still far off, and a big obstacle lies in figuring out how to hold someone subpoenaed accountable for actually appearing virtually. There are no regulations for these movements in place yet, but I have no doubt there will be in time. Change can be daunting, but it can also be groundbreaking. One way or another, we’re starting to see history made.

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