It is amazing how much our country, and the world, has changed within the last 1 to 2 weeks. A short time ago I was in a contested workers compensation hearing with a client who had been waiting approximately three years to get her case resolved. The next day it seemed like the entire world virtually shut down.
We are all beginning to adjust to this temporary “new normal.” I could not be more proud of all my talented and dedicated colleagues at Lawton Cates. Everyone on our team has worked tirelessly to help transition our law firm into a paperless, remote-based workforce. I’m happy to report that all of us are fully capable to address your legal needs and consult with you via email, telephone or videoconferencing. We also remain fully capable to ensure your case continues to progress as we have full access to all electronic court filing systems.
The impact of this pandemic shut down on our legal system varies depending on the specifics of your case. However, some general trends have clearly emerged. First, and disappointingly so, our court system has not had a unified response to this pandemic. As late as last week there were still courts in our state ordering in person hearings for groups larger than 10 people contrary to the directions from our Executive branch.
Second, despite our judiciary’s patchwork type response, most courts are postponing, rescheduling or converting matters into telephone conferences to the extent possible. I believe there are lots of ways to keep your case progressing and still comply with social distancing rules/norms. I anticipate the use of telephone and videoconferencing in our court system will skyrocket. I further anticipate, like all of us, the court system will figure out workable, interim solutions and continue to increase its capacity to process cases.
Admittedly, there are tough issues present related to in custody defendants awaiting trial on a criminal case or persons serving jail sentences for non-violent misdemeanors. I am dealing with these emergency issues directly and will report any helpful information as it develops.
Our administrative courts (i.e. workers compensation, social security, etc.) have followed suit with our circuit courts and temporarily suspended in person hearings. Currently scheduled hearings have been converted to telephone conferences.
The most helpful resource that I have been using to keep track of local court rules I posted below for your convenience. If you have a pending court matter I highly recommend you contact your attorney to discuss the status of your case. If you do not have an attorney, I recommend you investigate the link below to determine the status of your case.
We are inundated with news on COVID-19 so I will simply point out this resource by Google which has been helpful for myself personally.
I also want to express my gratitude for our healthcare workers, those involved in our food and supply chains, and everybody else trying to do their best to help their neighbors through this difficult time. Thank you very much. I appreciate everything you are doing.
Professionally, my highest and best use during this time is to do everything that I can to assist anyone with a legal issue. To that end, I offer a free consultation to anyone in need of legal services and my colleagues at Lawton Cates are doing the same. If you have a telephone or internet access I can provide you the same level of consultation as if you were sitting in our law firm conference room.
If Lawton Cates can assist you in anyway, or refer you to someone that may be able to better assist you, or direct you to resources that you may be able to use to take action for yourself, call (608) 282-6200 to schedule your consultation or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I encourage everyone to check in with those who may be most affected by this health pandemic. You can “check in” simply by sending a brief email, or making a telephone call. If you have access to the internet there are free videoconferencing apps you can use. For me, I know there are many veterans who are suffering from underlying health conditions and this may become a particular trying time for them. To the extent you can help keep everyone in your circle of influence feel supported during this difficult time I ask for your help in doing so.