New Spaces of Justice

This class will take the shape of a multidisciplinary workshop in collaboration with Virgil Abloh, Nóra Al Haider and the Legal Design Lab at Stanford University.

"When I grow up, I want to be a Supreme Court judge.”
George Floyd

On 31st of May 2020, less than a week after George Floyd’s killing, Clemens A. Landau, the presiding judge of Utah’s Salt Lake City Justice Court, wrote in an unusual public statement: “We are painfully aware that municipal courts like ours have historically been situated on, or at least very near, the tip of systemic racism’s spear.”

A 2017 report called “Justice Gap Report: Measuring the Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans" by the Legal Services Corporation revealed that 86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans in the past year received inadequate or no legal help. 71% of low-income households experience at least one civil legal problem, including domestic violence, disability access, housing conditions, and health care, with three out of five people representing themselves in civil courts. Judge Richard A. Posner resigned in 2017 telling the New York Times that he "gradually began to realize that this wasn’t right, what we were doing.”

The immediate and improvised nature of the COVID shutdown in the spring of 2020 did not only bring to light such systemic problems but created new ones too. One such is the accelerated digitization of the judicial system. The goal of the seminar is to address real-time challenges faced by the courts and its users and rethink analog and virtual court infrastructures, buildings, symbols and artifacts through a human-centered lens. In this clip, Last Week Tonight reported in detail how, while there is a federal moratorium on evictions, the eviction process continued during the COVID shut down, often via Zoom proceedings. This case exemplifies the challenges of the improvised digital court system and will be further studied in class.

Note: the instructor will offer live course presentations on 08/31, and/or 09/01. To access the detailed schedule and Zoom links, please visit the Live Course Presentations Website.