The idea of a virtual court hearing might sound strange, but it’s becoming increasingly common during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re scheduled for a virtual hearing, don’t panic. We’ve put together a few tips to help you navigate the virtual courtroom with ease.
The Basics of Virtual Court
Virtual courtrooms usually take place on Zoom, a platform made for video conferences and group calls. Courts didn’t consider the possibility of going virtual until the COVID-19 pandemic closed physical courtrooms across the country. The Supreme Court is allowing virtual court hearings at least until September 30, 2020. If you’re dealing with any court matters right now, you’ll probably have to undergo at least one virtual hearing.
Get in Touch With the Court Coordinator
With an experimental system like this, communication is key. The court coordinator plays the important role of communicating with both parties and relaying important information to the judge. In virtual court, the coordinator is responsible for answering your questions, handling your documents, and taking care of any problems with the help of the judge.
If you have evidence you’d like to show the judge, speak with the coordinator first. If the evidence deadline hasn’t passed, you’ll most likely be asked to email your documents to the coordinator so they can hold onto it until it’s time to show evidence to the court.
Test Your Internet and Zoom Before the Hearing
Whether or not you’ve used Zoom before, it’s important to test the program on your computer before your court date. Make sure you know how to enter a call, mute yourself, turn your camera on and off, and connect a microphone.
Make sure your internet connection is stable in the days leading up to your hearing. If you’re having issues, contact your internet service provider and explain your situation. If you can’t fix the problem before the date of your hearing, contact the court coordinator as soon as possible.
Appear as Professional as Possible
Virtual court might seem more casual than a physical courtroom, but the same rules still apply. You’ll still be expected to respect the presiding judge and follow every rule. Position yourself in front of a neutral background like a blank wall, and wear a solid colored shirt. Place your camera at or above eye level for a flattering, professional angle. When speaking, look into the camera rather than looking at the screen. Try to eliminate as much background noise as possible, and mute your microphone when you aren’t speaking. Talk to your lawyer before the hearing if you have any questions about virtual courtroom etiquette.
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