Expectations for Zoom Hearings
The COVID pandemic has brought the uncharted territory of Zoom Court Hearings to the legal process. Although there is an informal feel to a Zoom meeting, it is important to remember that a Zoom Court Hearing is just that, A COURT HEARING, and must be taken just as seriously as if you are in an actual court room. Because we want to put your best foot forward, here is a list of what we expect out of you during your Zoom Hearing:
- Set aside a block of time that extends at least 2-3 hours after the time the hearing is scheduled to start to ensure you are available and not distracted during your court hearing.
- We have found that there are no guarantees in relation to the timing of your hearing, just as if we were actually in court. For this reason, you should not schedule anything important on the day of your hearing in case the court takes longer than expected to hear your matter.
- If you do not have the login information readily available, reach out to us well in advance of the Court hearing so we can ensure you get it so you can log in on time.
- Make sure you have a private space to conduct your hearing free from any distractions. If you have pets, make sure they are in a separate room. If you have children, try to get a babysitter during the hearing, but if you’re not able to, make sure they are not able to see or hear the hearing in any way.
- Do NOT in any case conduct your hearing from your bed or any other place that is not professional in appearance.
- Wear professional clothing for your hearing. The Judge will be looking at you. Wear clothes that you would wear to a business event or a funeral. For men: button down collared shirt and a tie. For women: A professional blouse or sweater. If your video allows the Court to see the bottom half of you, make sure your bottom half is professional as well. No sweatpants or pajama bottoms.
- Groom yourself. Your hearing is not the time for you to have bedhead or look disheveled. Do not wear a baseball cap. How you appear to the Judge DOES matter.
- Do a test run at least 15 minutes before your hearing to make sure the device you are going to long in on is working correctly for both audio and video.
- Login to your hearing at least five minutes before it is scheduled to start.
- When you login, you will likely have to wait until the Court initiates the hearing. It is better for you to be waiting for the Court rather than the Court waiting on you.
- Ensure you are able to use video, and keep your video on throughout the Zoom session unless you are asked to shut it off. Do not have a screen saver up or any other type of photo. The Court will be judging how you act during the hearing, just as they would if we were physically standing in the courtroom. To do this, the Judge wants to see you.
- When you login, make sure that the name showing for yourself as your first and last name and ONLY your name. Do NOT change your name to anything other than your name. Do not try to make a statement within what you call yourself. You might think it’s a good idea to title yourself, “Getting Screwed,” but trust me, it is NOT a good idea.
- You and your attorney should have discussed a way to communicate during your Zoom hearing in case something comes up and it is necessary. If your attorney has not provided you with a way to do this, make sure you ask in advance. If it is through text, do NOT make it obvious that you are texting during the hearing.
- Mute yourself unless you are asked to speak. The only time you should be speaking is to introduce yourself at the beginning and to take the oath. When you state your name and take your oath (and say “Yes” or “I do”), make sure you speak up. The Court needs to hear you answer that question out loud. Once you’ve done that, mute yourself again.
- Remain calm and collected. Even if something upsets you, you need to keep a poker face at all times.
- You hired us to litigate on your behalf. DO NOT at any time unmute yourself or speak over your attorney, the opposing counsel, or the Judge. If you want to argue your own case, then you should let us know and we will withdraw. The ONLY exception to this would be if your attorney or the Judge specifically asks you to answer a question directly. Once done answering, put yourself back on mute.
- DO NOT chew gum, eat, smoke, or go to the bathroom during your Zoom hearing, even if you do not think anyone can see you.
- DO NOT browse the web during your hearing.
- DO NOT do anything that you would not do if you were physically standing in the courthouse with the Judge sitting directly in front of you.
- If you do not like what the opposing counsel, opposing party, or the Judge says, DO NOT interrupt them or start arguing with them. Again, you have an attorney who understands what is important to argue and what is not. You might think something is really important when, for the points that must be made, is not. Unless you want to fire us and represent yourself, your job is to remain calm and QUIET.
- If you are put in a breakout room and anyone else beside your attorney is in the room, do not start making jokes or do anything that takes away from the seriousness of the hearing. If someone else is in the room, anything you say can and will be used against you in court, so just don’t say anything unless your attorney instructs you to do so.
- When the Zoom hearing is over, log out immediately and ensure that you are disconnected completely from the hearing. Your attorney will call you after the hearing to discuss how it went. You do not want the Court to still be able to hear what you are saying.
- Take a deep breath. We got your back. If you have any questions, just let us know.