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How to Prepare for a Zoom Court Hearing


With the pandemic still raging on, almost every industry has had to adjust how it conducts business. The legal industry is no different. One of the biggest changes to legal proceedings that has happened as a result of the pandemic is the Zoom court hearing. To slow the spread of Covid-19, limiting in-person interaction has become a high priority. Zoom trials and hearings allow legal proceedings that otherwise might be delayed indefinitely to happen in a way that is safe for everyone involved. However, for most of us, knowing how to navigate this new normal can add to the difficulty of an already complex situation.

The idea of taking part in a court hearing is intimidating enough without adding more rules and procedures to it. Plus, Zoom hearings often force us to use technology that we either don’t know how to use or don’t have access to, or both. That’s why it is important to know the best practices for participating in a Zoom court hearing well before logging on.

Best Practices

Best practices for Zoom court hearings usually vary depending on the state, district, and type of law involved. Therefore, you should check with the specific court about best practices for Zoom trials and hearings before your court date. Still, there are a few universal best practices that the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Law Practice Today suggests everyone know prior to our hearing:

  • Technology – Make sure to have an updated computer to use, including up-to-date versions of Zoom, Word, and Adobe. Also, do a soundcheck and camera check for Zoom to make sure they work properly prior to the hearing.
  • Soundproof – Silence your cell phone and other devices, including the sounds that any apps, like Word, Zoom, or Skype make. Also, if logging in from the office, put up a do-not-disturb sign. If logging in from home, plan for kids and/or pets to be looked after during the hearing.
  • Declutter – Limit the number of items visible in the Zoom background during the hearing, especially items that could be seen as politically divisive or otherwise offensive to others.
  • Camera Presence – Sit up straight and do not speak too quickly.
  • Be Early – Log on at least five minutes early.

What to Wear

While you may know from experience or have an idea from what you have seen on TV and in the movies, knowing what to wear to an in-person court hearing is far from a sure thing for most of us. However, even if you know how to dress for an in-person court hearing, that doesn’t mean you know what to wear to a Zoom court hearing.

Again, check with the specific court holding the hearing to find out the dress code, but in general, this is how you should dress:

  • Men – Suit and tie
  • Women – Suit, dress, or a skirt and blouse

How to Present Evidence

In many cases, evidence is a physical item that can’t be properly identified and judged over Zoom. This begs the question: How do we present evidence during a Zoom trial or hearing?

At Belushin Law Firm, P.C., we recommend following the best practices prescribed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), which include:

  • Digital evidence, like social media posts and text messages, can be submitted online. However, they will often need to be authenticated to ensure that the evidence used in the hearing is the same as the evidence initially provided to the court.
  • Documentary evidence can sometimes be digitized and submitted to the court, but often the original physical documents will have to be submitted to the court and authenticated/certified prior to the hearing. This can involve delivering the documents to the courthouse in person, using a court’s no-touch dropbox, or mailing the items to the court.
  • Physical evidence, such as weapons or clothing, may have to be delivered to the courthouse in person (often by law enforcement), left in the dropbox, or mailed to the court for authentication. However, this type of evidence can sometimes be provided to others involved in the case via photographs and video recordings.

In addition, not to sound like a broken record, but to ensure that we are properly prepared to present evidence in a Zoom hearing, we also recommend checking with the specific court hosting the hearing.

How Often Are Zoom Court Hearings Still Happening?

While the pandemic seems to be far from over, there is no denying that things have gotten closer to “back to normal” than they were even a few months ago. As such, Zoom court hearings are happening less often in some states and districts. However, many districts, state, and federal courts are still allowing virtual hearings in a variety of cases.

When Zoom Isn’t Appropriate and In-Person Is Needed

Zoom trials and hearings have been a welcome and necessary option during the pandemic, but even so, there are certain situations where a Zoom hearing is not appropriate. In such cases, in-person trials and hearings are still required. For example, a trial involving a great deal of important physical evidence may require an in-person trial or hearing to allow the judge, attorneys, and jury to fully examine the evidence. However, there is conjecture among many for a middle ground in the form of hybrid trials. A hybrid trial involves a combination of in-person and virtual hearings. For instance, in some cases, a jury may be picked in a virtual hearing, but the actual trial will take place in a courtroom (with everyone masked and socially distanced).

Ultimately, the best way to ensure that Zoom is appropriate for your case and that your legal team is fully prepared for your Zoom court hearing is to talk to an experienced attorney. They will know the laws and procedures necessary to help you successfully navigate the Zoom hearing process.

At Belushin Law Firm, P.C., we understand how intimidating and complex court proceedings can be, especially for those who have never been involved in a trial or hearing before. Our law firm has nearly 75 years of combined legal experience, which we use to help our clients with legal matters every day. We provide our clients with the support, protection, and guidance they need throughout their in-person or Zoom hearings or trials.

To get in touch with our dedicated personal injury attorneys, contact us via phone (888) 918-9890 or online.

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