Chief Justice: Technology has helped Nebraska courts adapt to the pandemic | Crime-and-courts

Nebraska courts have adapted well to the coronavirus pandemic with the help of new technology, but the judiciary is grappling with labor shortages, the state’s top judge said Friday.

Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican said the judiciary has embraced remote hearings, electronic filing of court documents and other measures to keep the courts open and deliver justice.

“This year, I report to you that our courts have not only remained open, but have adapted to the realities of the pandemic,” Heavican said in his annual State of the Judiciary Address to lawmakers. “Our judges report that the backlog of cases is minimal. This claim is supported by case management statistics. Few states have achieved such success.

Keeping the courts open has presented the judiciary with an ongoing challenge, Heavican said, “but when the going gets tough, the tough go.”

Heavican issued mostly upbeat notes in his speech, praising the work ethic of judges, staff and practicing lawyers. He said online meeting services such as Zoom and WebEx have allowed judges to hold virtual hearings from their homes or offices.

“Without this technology, our courts would have been crippled by delays,” Heavican said.

Elna M. Lemons