In the era of Covid-19, it seems there is no part of life that has escaped unscathed or unchanged, we are in the era of virtual court hearings. From how we attend school to how we work to how we shop for our groceries, there are so many new rules and workflows to which to adjust. Included in that list is how we attend court hearings. In order to keep everyone safe and appropriately socially distant, many courts have opted to conduct hearings virtually via an online platform like Zoom. There are some guidelines for conduct that participants need to follow if the court summons you to virtual court hearings. Below we discuss a few of these guidelines.
Be On Time
Whether you are attending a court hearing in person or online, it is important that you are on time. There are tight timeframes and schedules that the court must adhere to, so if you are late you can derail the proceedings or your case can be skipped. As a general rule, you should plan to log on to the virtual platform at least 10 minutes before your scheduled time. This will also give you ample time to make sure that your connection is good and that your sound is working.
Follow Appropriate Dress Code
Virtual meetings have made it so that you can conduct business from the comfort of your own home. But this does not mean that you do not need to look presentable. As a rule of thumb, if you would not wear it in the courtroom, you should not wear it to a virtual court hearing. This means you will need to follow the court’s dress code from head to toe. In other words, just because the camera only sees your top half does not mean you only need to dress your top half. If you find yourself needing to get up to grab additional documents pertaining to your case, suddenly your non-dress code appropriate lower half will be visible to everyone. Participants all must prepare and dress appropriately before logging on.
Mute Your Microphone, But Remain On Camera
As with in-person court hearings, the court schedules multiple cases for the same time, and the judge will call each case in turn. While you wait for your case to be called, remain on camera and be respectful to the others present. You should also mute your microphone so that any background noise in your home is not disruptive to the current proceedings. Just remember to unmute your microphone when your case is called.
When the judge calls your case, just like in person, you should have all your documents and materials ready and within easy reach so you can answer any questions that may be asked at a moment’s notice. If you have retained an attorney, they will also be in the virtual hearing and can answer questions on your behalf. But in order to be respectful of everyone’s time and effort, you should have all of your things readily available for yourself as well. It does no harm to overprepare.