Are Most Court Hearings Conducted Via Zoom?

July 12, 2022

Courts moved online. This is probably concerning to many people since Zoom court is changing how justice is being served. This is partially due to COVID-19 infections that surged for the first time and caused American courts to alter their operations. As case backlogs swelled, courts transferred online at an increased rate. Read on to learn more about how Zoom court is evolving.

Court Hearings Being Conducted Online

Just in the past year, U.S. courts have conducted millions of depositions, hearings, settlement conferences, and arraignments via Zoom and other platforms. Texas alone has moved online the most aggressively and has conducted 1.1 million remote proceedings.

Virtual justice is considered an urgent response to a situation that is dire. However, it can also be a vision that many judicial innovators had a long time to realize. However, moving online can make courts safer, more accessible, convenient, and more transparent. Litigants, witnesses, and jurors no longer need to miss hours of work and deal with traffic just to appear in court. Attorneys that have cases in various courts can move from one to the next just by swiping on their phones.

Zoom courts have increased at a speed that has amazed everyone. Courts in America are dealing with a lot and COVID-19 forced them to experiment and improvise. Now everyone has the chance to reflect. You may have good reasons to worry about how fast the court Zooms have been increased. About 42 million Americans live beyond the reach of broadband service. Furthermore, some elderly people are just not able to master videoconferencing technology.

Many clients don’t have internet access, and others are illiterate or don’t speak English to be able to navigate different tech programs.

Courthouses have addressed this by setting up Zoom kiosks. In Texas, tablets have been given to jurors. Defendants now have the option to call in by phone or even log in at their local library. It may not be too easy to plead your case before a judge while your phone cuts in and out and you have screaming kids in the background.

Concerns About Zoom Court Hearings

Even though Zoom courts have been increasing, there are many concerns besides elderly people not being tech savvy. One of the biggest concerns, a more serious one, is that jurors and witnesses may get coerced by off-screen eavesdroppers. This can also be concerning for victims of domestic violence.

However, many virtual courts have shortcomings that are intrinsic to live courts. The comparison is definitely not to perfection.

Keeping jurors online, present, and attentive is another challenge that many may not even recognize. Jurors have been caught napping, talking to people off-screen, exercising, and leaving to get snacks.

These are probably some of the reasons why live streams have proved to be an unlikely hit.  

All in all, these experiments will likely continue to happen even after vaccines make courtrooms safe again. What goes online will more than likely stay online. While everyone wishes to get back to normal again, people need to remember what was good about normal and what wasn’t.

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Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler