To Zoom, or Not to Zoom!—the questions, the protocols, the “mute button!”
What happens if your really important story to tell in court gets sent to voicemail? Maybe the video feed worked, but there’s no perfection in the audio drops experienced. And that’s only one of the many pitfalls to remote testimony. For criminal defendants, remote access may not be so accommodating.
WHEN TO ‘LEAVE MEETING.’
Remote access sounds like a good thing. Greater accommodation, less travel, staying home & staying safe.
But what about having to actually attend a court hearing remotely? Whether as a litigant, witness, court officer, or law enforcement, there’s one GIANT CONCERN affecting all parties: It’s not the same as in person.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
Sure it’s cool to get credit for showing up from home, but you could be missing more than you think you’re getting.
For those in the criminal justice system, our in-custody defendants are pioneers of remote access. However, historically, that hasn’t translated into any real strategic advantage.
SOME STORIES BEST TOLD IN PERSON
Just because you have a defense to make, doesn’t mean the court’s WiFi will hear it. If your case hinges on the testimony of yourself or a key witness, think twice before Zooming into battle.
If there’s a way to have your case adjourned to allow for the in person confrontation you need to be effective, you should talk to a lawyer about your rights.
If your person is stuck, like in jail—then they’ve likely already shared how difficult it can be to talk remotely. The difference here could be in the few instances where a defendant (in custody or out) has a real chance of defending themselves. Those opportunities for confrontation guaranteed by our State and U.S. Constitution remain fundamental. And for some, having their case heard in person vs. remotely, could be as significant as life and death.
ZOOM WORKS IN PART( & NOT THE PART THAT HELPS A DEFENDANT.)
In conclusion, video conferencing and remote access is a great thing during this difficult time. Technology has opened the eyes of a lot of folks. The problem is, for some of the court population, the best shot they have is to be heard in person. If that right is obstructed, my advice is don’t zoom.
About The Writer
This article was written by Attorney Michael B. Kelly of Kelly & Kelly, P.C a Northville based legal practice specializing in criminal law, family law, and several other practice areas. Michael is a criminal defense attorney, SuperLawyer, and a contributor to ICLE, as well as a Member of ICLE’s Criminal Law Advisory Board.