A Florida judge is issuing an urgent plea to attorneys during the coronavirus pandemic: Please put on a shirt before logging in to a court hearing via videoconference. Judge Dennis Bailey, who sits on the bench in family court in Broward County, said in a recent letter to the Weston Bar Association that he and his fellow jurists have dealt with a number of inappropriately dressed attorneys on Zoom video calls.
As COVID-19 continues its assault on the country, residents in more than 10 states have been ordered to stay home and businesses, including restaurants, health clubs and entire malls, have been closed as governors nationwide take extraordinary steps in an effort to protect public health. Under what legal authority do such orders fall – and are there legal limits on government actions during a health emergency?
When things are going well, it’s pretty easy being a court leader. Operations are going according to plan, caseloads are managed reasonably well, and there are no tricky decisions to make about work assignments, services, staff or budgets. It is still possible to screw things up, but a rising tide tends to lift all boats, or in our case, all court leaders. It is in a crisis that leaders show their mettle. Judges and staff will look to leaders for direction. Sometimes, as with the covid-19 pandemic, the problem will be something few bosses could have reasonably anticipated. Now, they are expected to chart a steady course within days as the crisis continues to unfold.