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Virtual Court Hearings: How They Work

November 15, 2021
Alina Krukova

Alina Krukova

Categories: Reviews

Virtual Hearing Meaning & Purpose

Due to social distancing and the shift to remote and hybrid work formats, human communication has moved to online platforms. At the same time, courts today face an increasing caseload and must be prepared to work under unforeseen circumstances to ensure equal justice for everyone. Virtual hearings via video conferencing allow participants to join meetings from anywhere and, in some cases, reach a consensus prior to the session beginning. Virtual courts offer governments an excellent opportunity to deliver justice on a large scale, providing citizens with a legitimate way to resolve conflicts and protect their rights.

An Introduction To Virtual Court Hearings

Worldwide demand for online dispute resolution services has increased significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many courts continue to conduct their cases remotely through video conferencing to minimize crowding and maintain social distance. Moreover, some court leaders believe that the increased use of information technology, and in particular video conferencing, should become part of the court system on a permanent basis. For this purpose, all courtrooms should have the appropriate equipment and video conferencing solution.

virtual court

The Benefits of Video Arraignment in Court

A video arraignment means a remote preliminary hearing via video in which the person on trial is formally charged with a crime. A large number of prisoners prefer video arraignment because it improves their conditions by avoiding the use of handcuffs and body searches before each hearing, and their communication with their attorneys becomes more confidential. For example, this system is now widely used in the U.S. state courts.

Remote Court Administrator & Virtual Hearings

The Duties of an Administrator of Virtual Court

  • Invite outside participants, such as legal counsel and litigants, by adding their contact details and case information so they can be notified of the hearing date.
  • Add descriptions and links to the case information so that everyone stays informed about the proceedings.
  • Add a virtual breakout meeting for quick sidebar conversations during the hearing if necessary.

4 Practical Tips for Remote Court Hearings

virtual hearing

1. Minimize Complications

Think ahead about what device you want to use in video hearing. Study the application features, make sure that your camera and microphone are working properly. Also accept the fact that you may face technical difficulties, so take enough time for preparation and testing.

2. Discover Collaboration Tools

Before running a video meeting, make sure you know how to use collaboration tools, such as file, video or photo sharing, etc. You can combine all necessary documents and files in one folder to easily send them to other participants if necessary.

Some courts allow you to use the screen share feature to provide the hearing materials. This tool helps the defense or prosecution to present important evidence and testimony to the court remotely. Make sure there is nothing on your screen that you want others in the trial to see.

3. Observe traditional courtroom decorum

Make sure your demeanor and appearance conform to official style. Be courteous to all participants in the judicial conference. Usually, cases are handled strictly according to court rules. If it is a role-based conference, the moderator invites speakers in a certain order. Use a raise hand function to make comments without interrupting the judge.

4. Monitor your audio and video status.

Make sure that you do not create any interference for the court procedure: try to isolate yourself from noizy surroundings and, if possible, blur your background. If it is not your turn to speak, use the audio mute feature to avoid creating unnecessary noise and disable your video. Once your case is called, turn your video back on, unmute yourself, and proceed with your hearing.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Remote Video Arraignment

Advantages and benefits

  • Conducting remote video arraignment is much cheaper: there is no need to spend money on travel or on staff services. Thus, citizens have better access to justice.
  • Virtual courts allow attorneys to handle a large number of cases in a day, and they can litigate in any court in any part of the country.
  • Witness testimony can now be provided from a safer environment. Virtual case hearings are less traumatic for children, women, and victims than hearings in a physical courtroom.
  • You can view the case files or photo materials with Internet connection at any time .
  • There is a huge backlog of cases in the courts, which reduces the confidence of citizens in the judicial system. With the help of video proceedings, cases can be resolved in a timely manner or even faster.

Disadvantages and challenges

  • Judges and lawyers living in remote and rural areas often do not have access to high-speed Internet, which makes it difficult to participate in virtual hearings.
  • Technical failures and poor digital connectivity pose a serious problem for virtual hearings, especially if they take place during peak hours when many people are connected to the videoconferencing system.
  • Some applications and software are used to store courtroom data, and they are not secure enough. Thus, sensitive data can be intercepted or erased by some kind of virus attack. Lack of proper data privacy and can become a target of cybercrime.

Optimize virtual court hearings with the right video conferencing technology

Choosing the right video conferencing platform can help eliminate geographical barriers and provide quick access to justice without the need for additional resources. With TrueConf, any court can easily organize a hearing with up to 1,000 participants in 4K Ultra HD video quality.

The defendant’s attorney or prosecutor can present forensic evidence, photos and videos of proofs using the content sharing feature. And thanks to the voting feature, jurors can reach a verdict during an online hearing. Thus, the case is heard quickly and transparently, without unnecessary paperwork.

TrueConf provides reliable courtroom operations even when bandwidth is low or completely offline. With built-in security controls, secure SSL/TLS end-to-end encryption and HIPAA compliance, all personal information and case files are completely secure.

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