SIDEBAR Summer/Fall 2020 - 20

MONTGOMERYBAR.ORG

Practicing in a Pandemic
Continued from page 19

who are struggling. In preparing that virtual panel, I coordinated
with other attorneys by creating a shared Google document that
we could all edit and review simultaneously. I used Doodle polls
to coordinate schedules among panelists for planning. The panel
discussion itself featured a Google presentation slideshow by
using screen-share in Zoom, so I could switch between panelists
and show attendees the current slide. The presentation is now
uploaded to YouTube, and is accessible from my firm's website
www.gkh.com.

Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Courts had in place a
longstanding Continuity of Operation Plan (COOP) that
provides excellent and flexible templates for all types of
emergency operations. No matter how thorough the COOP,
no plan can ever foresee exactly how a Judicial Emergency will
unfold, but due to this excellent and proactive planning, the
Courts were in a strong and organized place to implement
Emergency Judicial Operations to deal with a pandemic that
reduced public contact to a bare minimum.

My work has scarcely dropped since the pandemic shutdown
began, but it still is odd to be working from home.

Overnight, the very public Montgomery County Courthouse
and Magisterial District Courts went from being buildings that
host hundreds each day to buildings with highly restricted access
to ensure safety and 'to stop the spread of the coronavirus.' The
ability to conduct Court proceedings by videoconferencing was a
blessing. The electronic filing and docketing systems were never
more appreciated and vital - and by some quickly learned - than
during the COVID-19 pandemic!

Michelle R. Portnoff, Esq.
Portnoff Law Associates, Ltd.
First, until new routines are developed,
expect that it will take longer to complete
a task.
Second, certain problems are due to
user error, not technology. Until I started
using a full size monitor and keyboard, I
thought my VPN connection was the reason that it took me so
long to read a document. The problem was that I could not read
the tiny print on the screen of my laptop! Identify the stumbling
blocks to find a solution.
Third, maintain casual conversations with your co-workers.
They spark creativity!
Fourth, most work can be done remotely and on your own
schedule. Between projects, I tend the plants in my garden or
exercise or start dinner. There is much to be said for setting a
schedule that is not tied to traditional workplace hours.
Finally, and most significantly, the family time is great! No
one is ever late for dinner!

Immediately after the issuance of the Judicial Emergency
Order, the Court clearly defined and promulgated what
constituted essential and emergency matters for all Court
divisions. In addition, intentionally simple procedures and
documents were developed to ensure that matters that had to be
addressed were handled expeditiously and consistently at both
the Court of Common Pleas and Magisterial District Courts.
Safety, transparency and justice were integral components of the
emergency operations.
As the Court - and the world - tentatively reopened, the
Court implemented the 38th Judicial District Reconstitution of
Court Operations Mission Statement with priorities of: Safety,
Justice and Growth. Adaptability has been the mantra, and the
Court continues to address matters in innovative - but no less
effective - ways.

Denise Vicario, Esq.
Former Deputy Court
Administrator, Montgomery
County Court of Common Pleas,
Current Executive Director,
Montgomery Bar Association
On March 16, 2020, with the approval
of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,
President Judge Thomas M. DelRicci was the first President
Judge in Pennsylvania to declare a Judicial Emergency due to
the global public health emergency, COVID-19. With the
sweep of his pen, Judge DelRicci was able to set the stage for
essential Court Operations during the pandemic. The initial
declaration envisioned emergency operations lasting a month,
but as the pandemic unfolded, multiple extensions of the Judicial
Emergency followed.

20 SIDEBAR

The Court pivoted to a virtual platform to conduct hearings
so that personal interaction was mitigated, and justice moved
forward safely and effectively. Every type of court proceeding
was reviewed and prioritized so that the thousands of pending
matters could be addressed or heard in an organized and
methodical fashion.
As always, the Montgomery County Courts continue to lead
with forethought, innovation and perseverance!


http://www.montgomerybar.org http://www.gkh.com

SIDEBAR Summer/Fall 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SIDEBAR Summer/Fall 2020

SIDEBAR Summer/Fall 2020 - 1
SIDEBAR Summer/Fall 2020 - 2
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARFall2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSummer2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARWinter2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSummerFall2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARWinter2019-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARFall2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSummer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARWinter2018-19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARFall2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSummer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/LRSINSIGHT
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARWinter2017-18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSummer2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2017
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