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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the nation in more ways than one. One example has been the postponement of jury service and in-person jury trials. To circumvent this issue, the courts have opted for virtual jury trials using Zoom or some other web-conference platform. This novel approach may have some benefits, such as allowing parties to attend proceedings from the comfort of their own living rooms, but it also comes with a wide range of complications. Understanding what these complications are and the potential solutions for overcoming these complications may make the virtual jury trial process easier on all parties involved.
If you have an upcoming virtual jury trial and would like to learn more about the process involved or how to prepare for a virtual jury trial, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced lawyers today.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE AGREEING TO A VIRTUAL JURY TRIAL
All things considered, virtual jury trials may be more convenient than traditional in-person trials. Participants can attend from the comfort of their own home or office and do not have to deal with crowds or commutes. However, virtual jury trials also present a unique set of challenges. For instance, virtual jury trials require participants to be technologically proficient with respect to the software used to conduct the trial. Virtual jury trials also diminish an attorney’s ability to effectively and demonstratively communicate with judges and juries.
Before agreeing to a virtual jury trial over a traditional in-person trial, it is thus important to take into consideration various practical concerns regarding the differences between the two. Such considerations include:
- Participant’s abilities to have a stable, reliable connection to the internet
- Participants’ abilities to understand and navigate software such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams
- The extent to which a virtual setting will diminish or dilute an attorney’s ability to advocate as persuasively as possible for his or her client
- The effectiveness of demonstrative exhibits and the ability to virtually publish exhibits to the jury
- The probable distractions to jurors while in their homes
GENERAL TIPS FOR PARTIES ATTENDING A VIRTUAL JURY TRIAL
Submit Documents Advance
If permitted by court rules, attorneys and other virtual jury trial participants should consider submitting trial exhibits and other pertinent documents to the court well in advance of the date of the trial. By doing so, participants may be able to circumvent any trial day issues, such as technological glitches or other setbacks that prevent documents from being displayed during trial.
Test Runs Can Help
Practice makes perfect. Thus, the best way to prepare for a virtual jury trial is to get accustomed to the virtual trial platform by running the software several times in anticipation of trial. For instance, if the jury trial will be through Zoom, then you should download Zoom and log on several times before the date of the hearing or trial. For good measure, you can even reach out to a friend or colleague and ask them to hold a brief video conference with you.
Avoid Virtual Backgrounds
Virtual backgrounds may be a source of fun and laughter in informal settings such as calls with family and friends. However, virtual jury trial participants should keep things formal and avoid using a virtual background during court proceedings. Instead, use a blank wall for a background, particularly one that contrasts well with the clothes you are wearing. Also, be sure to double-check that your software is not pre-set on a virtual background setting.
Although virtual jury trials provide the convenience of allowing participants to attend from the comfort of their own living rooms, it is important to remember that remote courtroom proceedings are still courtroom proceedings. Thus, you should handle the situation as you would if you were actually attending an in-person jury trial. This means dressing appropriately. Courtroom dress codes vary from court to court, but men are safe wearing collared shirts and slacks or other dress pants, while women are safe wearing a dress or a blouse and skirt. Avoid wearing tank-tops, hoodies, and caps.
Have a Functioning Camera and Microphone
This tip goes hand in hand with practicing using the software in advance of the virtual jury trial date. Before the day of your virtual jury trial, be sure that you have access to a computer, laptop, tablet, or other device that has a functioning camera and microphone, both of which are required for attending a virtual jury trial. In addition to making sure that your device has these features, be sure to take a couple of minutes to ensure that these features are in proper, working condition.
Have a Backup Device Handy
Have the mindset that anything can happen on the date of your virtual jury trial. This includes your device crashing, running out of battery, or otherwise failing to work as it should. Thus, prepare for such a situation by making sure that you have access to two devices capable of running the necessary software on trial day. Most smartphones, desktops, laptops, and tablets are capable of using software such as Zoom.
Do Not be Afraid to Stand Up
Most of us rarely, if ever, stand up while on a video conference call. However, given that a virtual jury trial is still a formal court proceeding, attorneys should not be afraid to stand up when addressing the judge and jury.
Use a Checklist
As you may be able to tell by now, there are a lot of things to consider when preparing for a virtual jury trial. The best way to keep track of each of these tips is to use a checklist of things that must be done in anticipation of trial day. Check boxes as you go and be sure that every box is checked by the morning of your virtual jury trial date.
CONTACT A ZINDA LAW GROUP ATTORNEY BEFORE YOUR VIRTUAL JURY TRIAL
Zinda Law Group’s attorneys have experience adjusting to the challenges that the pandemic has thrust upon this country. We are familiar with the ins and outs of virtual jury trials and other court proceedings. We are glad to assist you through the virtual jury trial process.
Our firm also believes that an injury victim should never have to worry about being able to afford excellent legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we win your case. That's our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
To learn more about the virtual jury trial process, or to get more tips on what to do before a virtual jury trial, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with a Zinda Law Group attorney today. Check out our blog for more helpful resources.
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