The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the world we live in and how we complete even the simplest of tasks on a day-to-day basis. Applying this reality to a legal proceeding, like a hearing, provides a recipe for what could be an extremely uncomfortable situation for any individual. There is good news, however. When you hire Scott & Wallace, our attorney’s and entire legal staff are well-versed in performing work remotely, including hearings. The vast majority of civil litigation hearings are handled by your lawyer. Your presence is not required and not necessary. However, from time to time, dispositive motions or evidentiary hearings will be held, and your attendance may be required, so it is important to know what to expect.
The restrictions due to COVID-19 vary from state to state. Still, most jurisdictions are holding hearings virtually, via video conference or telephone. Virtual hearings are new and unusual, and the unexpected can leave you feeling unprepared. If you’re wondering what a virtual hearing is like, we have the answers and a few tips that will help make sure your hearing goes as planned.
Stay In Touch
If you’re expecting your hearing to happen soon but aren’t sure whether it will be virtual, consult with your lawyer. When the court decides whether your hearing will be held virtually or not, you can be notified directly or through your lawyer. The court will let you know the exact date and time they expect you to be present for your hearing.
If you’re concerned you’ll miss an update, check your email and phone frequently. Additionally, check your email spam folder, as correspondence may end up in a folder you don’t frequently access simply due to your email privacy settings. If you’re concerned with the date of your hearing or if you will be unable to attend or would like to change the date, it is best to consult with your lawyer and have them contact the court as quickly as possible.
Everything You Need for a Virtual Hearing
To help the hearing process go smoothly, our legal team can assist you with a step-by-step of everything that will be required of you on the day of your hearing. Once the court determines the date and time, they will let you know whether it will be held via telephone conference or video. Here’s what you’ll need to make the hearing process flow effortlessly:
- Access to a high-quality internet connection with a download speed of at least 1.5 megabits per second.
- An electronic device with a built-in microphone and camera. If your laptop, tablet, or phone doesn’t have a camera or a mic, make sure to get one you can plug into your device.
- The video or telephone conferencing app the court has specified for your hearing. The court will let you know which app they use and provide you with instructions on how to set it up.
If you can’t meet these requirements, make sure you contact your lawyer or the court before your hearing. They will let you know what your options are.
What Is a Virtual Hearing Like?
Virtual hearings don’t differ much from in-person hearings.
The attorneys will present their arguments to the judge, and the judge will rule at the end of the hearing (sometimes judges reserve their rulings if they feel they need more time to consider the issue(s) presented and the argument(s) made. However, technical difficulties are always a possibility so it’s important to prepare yourself for the
unexpected. Lost connection, accidental muting, and background noise are all in the realm of possibilities once we go virtual. While these issues may be distracting, unless someone completely disconnects, the hearing will continue.
How to Prepare Yourself
Here’s what you should do on the day of your hearing to make sure the process goes well:
- Make sure the room you’ll be in is quiet and that you won’t be disturbed during the hearing.
- Test your device and conferencing app before the hearing starts.
- Log into the app half an hour before your hearing starts and follow the instructions the court provided.
- Once the hearing starts, listen to the judge, as they’ll explain how the hearing will proceed.
We hope things go back to normal soon. Until then, the legal team at Scott & Wallace is prepared to work with you hand-in-hand to make the best out of the situation and ensure you’re 100% conformable with the process and what to expect. As always, Scott & Wallace is available to answer any questions you may have, so please feel free to reach out with any concerns.