As the digital era evolves and continues, more and more practices are going virtual. One that is surprising to some is virtual hearings. Today, it is possible to attend a court hearing through a computer or another digital means. However, many wonder if this is a good thing. Keep reading to learn more about virtual hearings and the technology like cloud computing used to make them possible. Knowing the pros and cons of this practice can help you form an opinion about it and better understand how it works.
When virtual hearings are scheduled, it is much easier for everyone to find a time that works. There is also much less waiting involved. This is because it is not necessary to wait for another case to finish. If judges must postpone or reschedule the hearing, everyone involved doesn’t have to travel anywhere at a different time or date. They can simply log back into the software being used at the rescheduled time.
You don’t have to travel for virtual hearings. This is going to help you save time and money. Also, there is no need to reserve a room or office in the courthouse. Even better, you can avoid worrying about issues like lines, parking, security, and more.
Usually, when you opt to teleconference for a hearing, lawyers must have the exhibits ready to go before the hearing. This is done to ensure the judge can see and review them before the scheduled hearing. Usually, the opposing counsel is going to have the same opportunity as the judge.
While virtual hearings offer several benefits, there are also some potential disadvantages. For example, when everyone is in a different location, it may be challenging for the judge to control what is going on. After all, a judge can’t see anything that is happening out of the scope of the camera lens.
Usually, a court session will be open to the public. If a case does not involve a jury, it is usually just the clients, their lawyers, and the judge present. However, if you use an online service for the hearing, relatives, children, and anyone else can watch. This is particularly problematic when it comes to witnesses. During physical court, judges can make witnesses remain outside the courtroom until it is their turn to testify. It is much more difficult to enforce these types of rules when court is handled virtually.
Some personal records, which include medical information, psychological evaluations, and more, are presented during a trial or another type of court hearing. When this occurs, there is an increased risk that the information will be stolen or hacked during a video session. In some situations, there are also issues related to the security and privacy of medical records. This all relates to HIPAA, which is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
One of the most unexpected effects of having court virtually relates to witness credibility. Witnesses must be seen in person to understand how they react while being questioned. One way to determine how credible a witness is is to watch their hands. During physical court, a judge will be able to see a witness’s hands. During virtual court, this is not always the case. Small things like this may make it more challenging for a judge to determine if a witness is credible. In some cases, witness tampering may even occur. It is almost impossible to determine if someone is being coached by way of text or another method during virtual court.
While virtual courts are now popular in many areas, some issues still need to be worked out. Be sure to keep the information here in mind and make the right decision if you have to choose between physical or virtual court. Being informed is essential when using technology for these types of things.
Publish Date: August 22, 2021 3:27 PM