With the unprecedented reaction in California and throughout the country to COVID-19, there are many new questions arising in the legal field. With the emergence social distancing, emergency orders instituted to quell the spread may infringe upon constitutional rights and new norms may be forged in the legal industry.
Supreme Court Powers During a Health Crisis
The Supreme Court of California has been granted the power to issue orders that allow for the safe operations of all courts in California. In an article by Juliette Fairley of the Southern California Record about COVID-19 emergency power granted to the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Jeffrey Lewis is quoted as saying, “In a time of legitimate emergency, if all those things can be shown, then the state is allowed to infringe upon constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.” (Read More Here). While restricting certain rights in the short term, the orders ultimately preserve constitutional rights for those that are in the process of adjudicating their rights.
COVID-19 has also changed the legal practice. Under emergency orders, attorneys are not required to appear in-person depositions or hearings. This is forcing attorneys to learn new technology and methods to conduct discovery. As these electronic methods are much more cost effective, attorneys may make remote appearances the new norm. As Jeff Lewis states in another Southern California Record article, “After the virus is over, these lawyers might find themselves continuing to use these technologies to save time, money and avoid travel.” (Read More Here).
With the profound uptick in hand sanitizer usage during this pandemic, we are already seeing new types of lawsuits. Take for example the hand sanitizer manufacturer Purell. Purell has been sued in a class-action lawsuit that asserts their claim of their product killing 99.9% of germs is misleading. While this may the first in a long line of similar lawsuits, companies like Purell will not want the questions that suits like this bring about their product. As Jeff Lewis states in an article by the Southern California Record, “I expect settlement conversations to happen early because the lawsuit could harm their brand if it became well known that these hand sanitizers don’t work.” (Read More Here).
The full impact of COVID-19 is yet to be seen. How much of our daily lives and the legal industry it will change and how we move forward to prepare for something similar in the future will be up for debate. Until that time, stay safe. If you have any questions please contact us.