ZOOM…GOING VIRTUAL WITH OUR JUSTICE SYSTEMBy DADvocacy™ | April 9, 2020
With COVID-19 changing how we operate our day to day lives, so has the way we appear at court. Amid the COVID -19 pandemic, courthouses are closed to the public except for those individuals participating in emergency hearings or mission critical hearings. ZOOM is a video conference platform, free of cost, that allows our court system to continue to conduct virtual hearings in virtual courtrooms. Some hearings and mediations are also being conducted telephonic.
Judges are working diligently to get their courtrooms running virtually. We at DADvocacy have seen that not all hearings will go forward, and it is at the judge’s and parties’ discretion whether a hearing will go forward or not. Should your hearing go forward you will receive notification of the hearing and how it will be conducted, typically via e-mail. If your hearing is handled through ZOOM, you will receive a link with a date and time for the hearing, a Meeting ID, and passcode, if necessary. If you do not have a camera, there is no problem. Zoom allows you to appear via telephone as well.
DADvocacy has already attended hearings via ZOOM and telephone and we have some pointers in getting you through these unprecedented times.
- Test your internet connection and audio connection. This can be done in the settings section of your account or here.
- Practice with friends and family before your hearing so you feel more comfortable using the ZOOM platform. (Most kids are using this platform for their schoolwork as well, so it doesn’t hurt to learn. It can also be used to keep in touch with friends and family during this new period of social distancing).
- Dress appropriately. Just because you are not physically present in the courtroom doesn’t mean you can appear on camera in your pajamas or lounge wear.
- Get on your hearing before the actual hearing time to make sure you are ready to go when the hearing starts. It is your responsibility to be logged on. The judge does not call you.
- Speak clear and direct and look at the camera. Remember to adjust the camera to your height. Maintaining eye contact is hard during ZOOM hearings, but it can be achieved.
- Parties shall speak one at a time. Everyone will have their time to talk so be courteous and respectful. Don’t roll your eyes when the other part is speaking or blurt out response. Keep your demeanor and composure throughout the hearing.
- There is a mute button on your screen. When you are not speaking you should mute your microphone to avoid picking up background noise.
- Be mindful of where you will be conducting your hearing, especially in family cases as all our children are home and we do not want them overhearing what is going on (If you are the parent with a child at home during a hearing, maybe wear headphones during your hearing or make sure your child is not in the room).
- Some judges have multiple attorneys and parties on at the same time. Please make sure you keep calm and wait your turn. There are breakout rooms where you will wait until the judge calls your case.
- Make sure you leave the meeting. There is an icon to do so at the end of the hearing.
Just like everything practice and time will get you more comfortable with the ZOOM platform. More information on your local courthouses and how they are operating can be found on the courthouse’s individual webpage. For Miami-Dade click here. For Broward County click here. Please contact our office for a free consultation, despite these difficult times DADvocacy is here to help you and your family. We hope you and your family stay safe and healthy during this time.