August 11, 2021

Vermont Supreme Court Authorizes the Use of Remote Civil Jury Trials to Enhance Access to Justice for Vermonters

Supreme Court committee worked for months to develop detailed protocols governing their use

Last week the Supreme Court adopted an order establishing a one-year pilot project for remote civil jury trials. The move comes after in-depth work by a committee on how to utilize remote hearing technology to increase access to justice and address civil case backlogs—things especially important to the Judiciary as it continues to navigate challenges associated with COVID-19.

“The Judiciary has been using remote technology to facilitate operations in order to ensure access to justice and continuity of operations and to promote the health and safety of judges, staff, and court users during the pandemic,” said Patricia Gabel, State Court Administrator. “Considering the ways available technology can assist us in managing our civil docket is an important step in our ongoing effort to leverage technology and adapt our operations to changing conditions,” she said.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court authorized the formation of a committee to consider whether remote civil jury trials are a workable option for the Judiciary. The committee, which was chaired by Associate Justice Karen R. Carroll and included representatives from the Judiciary and the Vermont Bar, studied the issue and produced a detailed protocol for how remote civil jury trials should be handled in the civil docket.

“We have learned much over the last 17 months and the Supreme Court wanted to ensure that the Judiciary is making the best use of available technology to support operations—both now and in the future,” said Associate Justice Karen R. Carroll, the committee’s chair. “I am very grateful to committee members for their hard work and contributions to this important guidance for judges, staff, attorneys, and the public,” she added.

View the Court’s administrative order and the Remote Civil Jury Trial Protocols below: