Hundreds of thousands of cases take place in the public federal courts in the United States each year under normal circumstances, with state courts likely accounting for millions more.
However, the circumstances we’re currently living with are not normal ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has left public court proceedings restricted in some areas and entirely impossible in others.
However, the need for access to the courts is largely the same as it ever was. Many people have had to seek alternatives, with private trials emerging as one popular solution to this problem.
Read on to learn more about private trials, and whether a private trial might be a good idea for you at this time.
Public vs Private
Generally speaking, legal trials take place in public. There are a number of reasons for this.
In criminal matters, it is felt that accused persons have the right to be tried in front of the public to ensure a fair trial. More broadly, conventional wisdom proposes that it is easier to make the justice system accountable to the public when they can easily see what goes on within it. This is especially important in areas where judges are democratically elected.
However, there are certain circumstances under which public trials are inappropriate.
In business disputes, for example, parties will often agree that sensitive information involved in the trial should remain private. A private trial is sometimes the preferred solution in this case.
How Do Private Trials Work?
Private trials are an emerging method of dealing with disputes outside of a courtroom. They were already beginning to gain traction in Florida before COVID-19, as the state’s court system has been heavily backlogged for a long time.
Also known as voluntary trial resolutions, private trials can take a few different forms. Parties to a dispute can opt for binding arbitration (where an independent third party makes a decision which is then legally binding) or a full jury trial, which resembles a public trial in almost every way except the presence of the public.
The latter approach offers the possibility of an appeal, which many parties to disputes prefer as it resembles the proper legal process more closely.
Another method our legal system has developed to deal with COVID-19 is the virtual trial. Using software like Zoom or Skype, some disputes can be settled in an entirely remote capacity.
Getting an Effective Solution for Your Legal Issue in 2020
This year has presented huge difficulties for all of us. No industry or geographical area has survived the ravages of COVID-19, and the law is no exception.
However, private trials might be the answer to some of the problems we’re facing at the moment. Until normal service can resume in our courtrooms, they have the potential to work in a lot of cases.
To learn more about private trials, or to inquire about any legal issues you may have, contact us today.