Society, and certainly the courts, did not have time to prepare and adapt to the unprecedented COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic before the effects of the pandemic swept through the nation. The first coronavirus case within the United States was reported on January 20, 2020. The coronavirus spread at an alarming rate, and by March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Just two days later, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, declared a National Emergency. By January 10, 2021, the United States faced 21,761,186 cumulative cases and 365,886 total deaths from the coronavirus.
In the wake of the rapidly spreading virus, stay-at-home and shelterin- place orders went into effect in the majority of states by late March 2020. By the end of March, the vast majority of state supreme courts announced judicial emergencies, closed their doors, postponed proceedings, or limited court activity to various degrees. The Supreme Court of Georgia issued an Order Declaring Statewide Judicial Emergency on March 14, 2020, which has been extended ten times with various amendments and is still in effect as of January 10, 2021. In addition, various courts across the nation individually issued “orders relating to court business, operating status, and public and employee safety” in the months following the coronavirus outbreak. Specifically, all of Georgia’s United States District Courts entered various orders implementing new procedures in response to the coronavirus, including suspending court proceedings and enforcing new health and safety protocols. Beginning in March 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit introduced live-streaming for oral arguments, limited access to the courthouse, and suspended paper filing requirements. The Supreme Court of the United States closed to the public indefinitely beginning March 12, 2020, while also postponing oral arguments for March and April 2020.
"If The Mask Fits: The Unconstitutionality of Face Masks in Criminal Trials During COVID-19,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 72:
4, Article 15.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol72/iss4/15