The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) recently published a study that took a detailed look at remote hearings in state courts in Texas. Participating judges from eight counties recorded details of their work over a three-week period in April 2021, and during that time, 85% of their hearings were conducted remotely.
The study found that being able to connect remotely into a hearing makes the process more convenient for the parties involved, and therefore virtual hearings take longer. The length comes from increased engagement, as plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses can participate without huge disruptions to their day-to-day lives.
David Slayton, who served as the Administrative Director of the Texas Office of Court Administration before moving to NCSC as Vice President for Court Consulting Services, witnessed this increased participation firsthand in the Texas courts before he began studying it for the NCSC report. Back in early 2021, he reflected on what he was witnessing in the Lone Star state. “What we’ve seen in the [more than 25 virtual jury trials] we’ve had so far is that in every one of those, there’s been increased participation,” he said. “Usually, let’s say that a county has 40 percent of people show up for jury duty. With the virtual jury selection, we’ve seen that number actually increase, so, 60, 70, 80 percent participation.”