The Future of the Virtual Courthouse
By Honorable Samuel T. McAdam
The Honorable Samuel T. McAdam is the Supervising Judge of the Civil Division of Yolo Superior Court. Appointed in 2008, he served during the start of the pandemic as the court’s Presiding Judge in 2019-2020. Before becoming a judge, he was a partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, where he practiced employment law.
On Sunday, March 15, 2020, the leaders of Yolo Superior Court gathered at the courthouse and listened to the Governor’s directives regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. That afternoon, the court developed a plan to provide fair and timely justice in a safe environment. It was critical to keep all courtrooms open and to maximize public access but also to reduce the "footprint" at the courthouse, given widespread stay-at-home orders.
The next day, the court began building a "virtual courthouse," allowing remote video appearances using Zoom and livestreaming public access on YouTube. Within days, a talented and dedicated court staffâliving and working under their own personal pandemic pressuresâhad created virtual courtrooms for each division of the court. Over the next few weeks, all virtual courtrooms became fully operational and delays in hearings and trials were eliminated.