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Courts Without Court

Posted by on Thursday, October 20, 2022 in Articles, Volume 75, Volume 75, Number 5.

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson | 75 Vand. L. Rev. 1461

What role does the physical courthouse play in the administration of criminal justice? This Article uses recent experiments with virtual courts to reimagine a future without criminal courthouses at the center. The key insight of this Article is to reveal how integral physical courts are to carceral control and how the rise of virtual courts helps to decenter power away from judges. This Article examines the effects of online courts on defendants, lawyers, judges, witnesses, victims, and courthouse officials and offers a framework for a better and less court-centered future. By studying post-COVID-19 disruptions around traditional conceptions of place, time, equality, accountability, and trial practice, this Article identifies how legal power can be shifted away from the courts and into the community.

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Andrew Guthrie Ferguson