Hay-Sell Pittsburgh American Inn of Court and Q. Todd Dickinson Intellectual Property American Inn of Court

The Hay-Sell Pittsburgh American Inn of Court and the Q. Todd Dickinson Intellectual Property American Inn of Court, both in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, held a joint virtual meeting in June. The meeting was held in a town-hall style with three judges from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania participating. Sixty-seven members from both Inns listened as Chief Judge Mark R. Hornak (Pittsburgh), Judge Susan Paradise Baxter (Erie), and Judge Stephanie L. Haines (Johnstown) discussed procedures during the pandemic for all three divisions of the court.

The judges said all three court locations have never been closed during the crisis. The volume of day-to-day court activity has been unabated. While jury trials have been suspended until early September, other proceedings are taking place via telephone conferences and online. Even alternative dispute resolution proceedings have continued, and neutrals have noted larger participation because of Zoom. Hornak noted that the court’s technology was good and permitted their procedures to continue electronically. The three judges agreed that the state of the courts is sound.

The program was moderated and attendees were encouraged to submit questions via the online chat feature. Questions ranged from “When will jury trials resume?” to “Are masks used?” and “How do you deal with the presentation of physical evidence?”

The judges said they think they will continue to use this technology in the future. The use of technology saves time and money and permits attorneys to be more efficient and less expensive while not impairing the administration of justice.