After COVID-19 forced courts to go digital, Zoom hearings are here to stay

When the COVID-19 pandemic started last year, courts moved to an online format.

Now, as Michigan starts to reopen, digital hearings are here to stay in many cases.

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"It's efficient, it's quick, it's consumer-friendly. We can do more cases and it's good for the people," said Judge William McConico, the chief judge of Detroit's 36th District Court.

The state administrator sent a memo telling judges to use Zoom for court hearings if they are able to do so.

Zoom can be used for many different hearings, including traffic cases, civil cases, and landlord-tenant cases. Jury trials cannot be conducted virtually, though.

McConico said judges have said they like digital hearings.

"They don't have to come and pay to park. I don't have to find child care. They don't have to find someone to take care of their elderly – it works for both of consumer and the court system," he said.

Police have also said that Zoom hearings are more convenient than in-person cases.