At 00:11 – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many courts are convening over Zoom and so we want to give you instructions on what we expect of you while using Zoom.
At 00:32 – First, we ask that whenever possible, use a computer for the hearing. So, it may not work for all our clients, but we highly recommend using a computer instead of a phone. A computer will allow for a more professional appearance. Also, there can be issues such as bad angles, inappropriate backdrop, noises, and lighting. Since the hearing is usually in a courtroom, we want to appear as professional as possible, just like we were in court.
At 01:20 – First, you will need to go to www.zoom.com. On the web page, you will see a tab that says “Resources”. Hover over that word. And it will drop down to the first option which is “zoom client meeting”. And then you will download it. Another option is whenever you have a court hearing coming up is that you will be sent a link we receive from the court. When you receive that invitation, you can click on the link at the bottom of the invitation, and it will take you to the next page and from there you can download and run Zoom. You will be immediately connected to the meeting.
At 02:39 – It is extremely important that you have a stable internet connection. If the internet connection is not stable, you may cut in and out or not be heard by the court. The court and our office view this as a major disruption. When this happens, we may have to restart the meeting. Other times, the court will adjourn, and you will get another court date. If you need help with a stable Internet connection, please let us know. Also, it is important to use the microphone correctly. It is extremely important that you mute your microphone when you are not speaking. The reason being that if a court can hear the activities in your home, then the court reporter is often unable to record the testimony. So, you must have your microphone muted. Please note that some courts will hold you in contempt if you do not mute your microphone.
At 04:08 – Another reason to use a computer is that it is easier to find the microphone icon. On the computer screen, the Zoom call is formatted the same. However, the format may look different on a phone. On the bottom of the screen, you will see the microphone icon. When you click on the icon, you can mute and unmute yourself. You know you are muted when you see the red line through the microphone icon.
At 05:12 – It is important to mention that you must type in your full name when logging into Zoom. If you are logging into Zoom using someone else’s account, you must change their name to your name.
At 05:38 – Now, back to speaking during the hearing. It is particularly important to make sure that your account for a delay. This means it takes a few seconds for your words to be heard by the court and vice versa. When you are being cross-examined by the other side make sure that you are allowing for a brief pause of at least three seconds to give me, your attorney, the opportunity to object to their question.
At 06:12 – Also, be aware that the judge will become irritated if you speak too quickly because it might prevent the court reporter from taking a record of the hearing.
At 06:32 – The next topic is clothing. You must dress as if you are in court. So, we say to wear your” Sunday best”. For women, you want to have on conservative clothing, modest makeup, nothing sheer, no tank tops, or spaghetti straps. Ensure your appearance does not distract from the testimony.
At 07:32 – Men should wear a suit. If you do not have a suit, then wear a button-down shirt, a jacket, and a tie. You should dress like you were going to church.
At 07:38 – So, we want to make sure that you angle the camera correctly so that we can see your face. Make sure you check the camera and adjust as needed. Also, you want to make sure that you are not walking around the house or in your car. That is incredibly unprofessional. You should be seated at the computer and paying attention throughout the hearing. Here is a good tip- try to sit so you are positioned in the middle of the computer screen.
At 08:43 – Now, we need to talk about the background or the backdrop. The background means what is behind you on the computer screen, and therefore seen on camera. Make sure that there is not anything distracting behind you, such as numerous pictures. You should have a conservative, blank wall so the judge can focus on your testimony.
At 09:19 – Also, make sure there are no third parties in the room. Most courts are going to give you instructions to say that you cannot have any third parties in the room. You should be alone. We have had instances where the other party had the children in the background during custody hearings. The judge was very unhappy that the children were being exposed to the testimony.
At 10:01 – Also, make sure the room is quiet and there is no background noise.
At 10:03 – Do not record the hearing. You can be held in contempt and sent to jail. Again, do not record the hearing.
At 10:25 – We want to mention something about the backdrop again. Please do not sit in front of the window because the lighting will make you look like a shadow. The court needs to see you and so just use a blank wall as a backdrop.
At 10:44 – Let’s discuss the documents. We share documents with you and with the other side. That means if you are on a cell phone it is going to be very difficult for you to read some of the documents. So again, that is another reason to make sure you get on the computer and that you know to be an active participant in this hearing. because it is just like being in a courtroom period.
At 11:04 – Now the judge may as to speak to the children. If the judge requests to talk to the children, then they need privacy to talk. So, you need to make sure you give them access to the computer and you must exit the room. It is particularly important that you’re not close by because it would be considered contempt.
At 11: 40 – I would like to add that even though you are in the comfort of your own home, the virtual hearing has the same rules as if you are physically in the courtroom. if you were called to the witness stand in a courtroom, you are not allowed help with your testimony, and you may not bring documents with you. And this is especially important because if you’re asked if you’re referring to documents during the hearing, and in fact, you are looking at the documents, then they will pause the hearing until the other side gets to review all documentation that you have in front of you including your personal notes between us. Therefore, keep in mind that we must behave as if we were in the courtroom.
At 12:28 – We are always going to look and behave professionally during the Zoom hearing. I know that you may be in the comfort of your home, but you must appear professional, just like in the physical courtroom. Professional dress, backdrop, using the microphone correctly, angling the camera to be on your face, and so forth will impact your ability to be successful in the courtroom and your ability to win your case. I hope these tips will be of assistance to you. I can assure you that if you follow them, we are going to have more success in court.
At 12:59 – Thank you so much for listening and we will see you in the courtroom.