Thursday, March 11, 2021

Courts on the Go


Legal technology writer Molly McDonough posted an article about the Utah Outreach Court ( That court takes a courtroom to the litigants, in some instances to the homeless person's campsite, using a repurposed mobile command center vehicle and tents.


Ms. McDonough had earlier in February written an article titled “Crazy or Crazy Good Idea: Justice Buses?”  subtitled “Revisiting ‘circuit riding’ judges”.  In that article, she noted earlier efforts in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Arizona.  She also listed the St. Louis County “E-court Outpost”. Mobile legal clinics were also noted in California, Ohio, and Kentucky.

In her Utah Outreach Court article, she quoted the Deseret News newspaper which said:

“The roving court is a recognition that it can be hard for those without stable housing to make sure they keep up with court dates, advocates say. The charges they face are often tied to their situation, including camping on public property, staying in a park after closing and having an open container of alcohol in public.”

The article notes that you do not necessarily need a bus.  The Salt Lake City Justice Court sets up tents. I would also perhaps look into using park shelters to provide the “courtroom” with electrical power.

All in all, I think it is also a good idea to be able to add locations and staff to help address the disadvantaged but also to work on reducing the Covid-19 backlog. 

Last, the mobile court is not a new idea.  I had a picture of a 1920’s mobile justice court from Inglewood, California several years ago in the Los Angeles Public Library online photo archive of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. 

But I did not know the backstory until I found this article on the Gizmodo website.

It is a fun read and fun to think about how we can help to address the access to justice needs with a little creativity.

1 comment:

  1. The Federal Court courtroom air testing article is here: