While the courthouse has not been open for non-emergency hearings and trials due to the prior shelter in place order and the continuing concerns over COVID-19, hearings and trials are taking place by Zoom.  Since the shelter in place order, our Judges have continued working by conducting motions and evidentiary hearings and non-jury trials by Zoom, a popular video platform. While there are challenges, there are some real benefits with not having to appear in person in court, especially given the circumstances.

Zoom is Convenient

With a Zoom hearing, no one, including the lawyer or someone who is out of state, has to travel to the hearing. People can participate from their home, office or even their car. And you avoid the additional costs of parking and the attorney’s travel fees.

Zoom is also being used in mediation.  There have been many successful mediations using Zoom.  The parties and lawyers no longer need to travel to attend a mediation.  Another convenience is when the lawyer needs to speak separately to any of the parties. Using the Zoom conference rooms, we can place parties in the rooms and switch back and forth from one to another in complete privacy.

Better than Phone Calls

Until hearings started occurring on Zoom, we had to communicate by phone during when an in person court appearance was not possible. But a phone call is not near as effective as seeing each other on a video screen. People tend to behave better when others can see them. You’ll need to dress appropriately, at least from the waist up, and conduct yourself in a professional manner. Judges  can make assessments based on what they are seeing in the home, especially in cases of child custody.

Some Challenges

When the Zoom is over, be sure to “Leave” the call. We had a situation where a party did not leave the call and threw a temper tantrum that got recorded and resulted in a restraining order. There are other challenges too with regard to protocol and control. 

According to the National Law Review, courts are trying to adjust to the pros and cons of Zoom hearings so that they are fair, confidential and follow protocol. Obviously, it’s an evolving situation that will require attorneys, clients and judges to adapt. 

Want to learn more? Call us at 561-932-1988 or email Doreen Halickman at Doreen@familylawpalmbeach.com