The Zoom Courtroom: Tips for Witnesses on How to Join and Be Prepared for a Virtual Hearing August 31st, 2020 | By: Robin R. Mocabee, Esq.
If you have not yet been using Zoom as another way to communicate with co-workers or family members, where have you been for the last six months? Whether it be for work, school or a fun video get-together with friends, this way of communicating is, for now at least, the new normal. Currently, most courts are conducting virtual hearings on landlord-tenant matters by Zoom rather than in-person hearings in a courtroom.
We can debate the merits of virtual attendance at all things later. For the moment, however, it’s here to stay. So, it’s necessary to adapt.
For starters, here is a link to Zoom’s website: https://zoom.us/. Likewise, a video online tutorial about how to join a meeting may be found at: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362193-How-Do-I-Join-A-Meeting-. To become familiar with Zoom and to join a test meeting check out: https://zoom.us/test.
The best way to connect to a video court hearing for Desktop PC’s and Laptops is to go to the Zoom website (https://zoom.us/) and click on “Join a Meeting” in the upper right hand side of the screen. Enter the Meeting ID which can be a 10 or 11-digit number. Be sure to put your name as your screen name so the court will be able to properly identify you.
For Tablets and Mobile Phones (Apple and Android), install the Zoom app from the App Store or Play Store prior to the date of the court hearing. At least 15 minutes before the court hearing, launch the Zoom app. Click on “Join a Meeting” and enter Meeting ID. Again, be sure to put your name as your screen name.
As for how to act during a virtual court hearing, Michigan District Courts offer these recommendations:
- Take time before the day of the video court hearing to become familiar with the Zoom controls and to test your device, camera, microphone, and speakers.
- The Zoom hearing is a court proceeding and an extension of the courtroom; appropriate conduct and attire is required.
- Turn off all noise making devices and close the door to the room you are in to avoid distractions and complications.
- Make sure the room or office you will be in for the video court hearing has good consistent lighting. Avoid rooms with bright windows and/or back-lighting.
- When using a mobile device, place it on a solid surface with the camera at eye level. Do not hand hold a mobile device and do not lay a phone or tablet flat on a desk or tabletop.
- Be patient. The Court will bring you into the meeting. However, before that happens, you may be placed into a temporary waiting room.
- Do not blurt out your name. Rather wait until you are called, or your attorney recognizes you. This is why it is important for you to put your name as your screen name before you join the meeting.
The Bottom Line: It is too early to say whether court hearings by Zoom will become permanent. For now, though, it is incumbent on every potential witness to be familiar with Zoom so that they can be ready to participate in a virtual courtroom.
The information contained in this article is only meant to be a basic overview and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without the advice of an attorney. The contents are intended for general information purposes only and may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or otherwise be disseminated without the prior written consent of Paletz Law.