Some courts in Canada and at least one Texas probate court judge are showing how easy it can be to make welcomed user-friendly changes to their day-to-day operations.
Ever wonder how to respectfully handle the topic of pronouns? Look to Canada.
British Columbia’s provincial and supreme court systems each adopted new rules in late 2020 to ensure each participant’s pronoun preference is respected.
Under the inclusive rules, all lawyers and anyone else in a courtroom (like witnesses or an accused person) should provide their full name together with their gender pronouns and their title, whether it be Ms., Mr., or the gender-neutral Mx., or simply “Counsel” during their introduction to the court. If someone doesn’t provide their pronouns, the court clerks ask them to specify.
Lisa Nevens (they/them) provided guidance for the new rules and explains, “We take all of the questions out of the equation, and people who are non-binary and participating in the system, can just focus on their participation, instead of being distracted by whether or not their identity will even be recognized, respected.”
U.S. federal magistrate Mustafa Kasubhai (he/him) has also written about his courtroom’s pronoun practices in the Oregon Women Lawyers and this court guide.
Ever wonder how to maximize court appearance flexibility for scheduled hearings? Look to Harris County (Texas) Probate Court Judge Jerry W. Simoneaux, Jr.
There is no formal written order on the court’s website but, through personal Facebook and LinkedIn posts, the judge shared that—starting March 7—“Now, you can choose how you wish to appear and there is no requirement to advise the court in advance. Everyone receives a Zoom link and can use it remotely or show up in court.”
That’s a pretty amazing default operating posture for a court. Everyone gets a Zoom link. You don’t have to appear by Zoom. You can show up in person if you want. You do not have to let the court know in advance how you will be appearing. Just show up!
Two practical examples of how courts can provide user-friendly services. Let’s hope that others agree and the good work spreads to other courts.