Some courts use Microsoft Teams (Teams) as their platform for virtual hearings. This article includes an index of resources explaining how to use Teams including how to use Teams, using the chat feature, how to share files, and other Teams features. This will help you prepare for your virtual hearing.
TexasLawHelp is working to provide you with accurate information on virtual court procedures and platforms. To help improve upon the information that is available, please leave any comments or recommendations in this Virtual Court Content Survey.
How do I get started with Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft created several articles about getting started with Microsoft Teams you can read through to familiarize yourself with the platform.
Watch Microsoft's "Get Started with Teams Meetings" Youtube playlist to familiarize yourself with Teams on your desktop computer.
To download the desktop app and join the hearing through the app, go to Microsoft's website and download the app.
How do I join a Microsoft Teams hearing?
If you do not have a Microsoft Teams account, read Join a meeting without a Teams account from Microsoft. This article includes how to join without an account on your desktop and mobile phone.
If you have an account already or needed to create an account for your hearing, read the article Joining a meeting in Teams to learn how to join a meeting from your desktop or mobile device.
If your case is set for a virtual hearing through Microsoft Teams, usually the court staff will send all parties the date, time, and Meeting ID for your hearing to the email address you have on file with the court.
Every Microsoft Teams meeting has a unique meeting ID, similar to a meeting invite link. To join a meeting using the meeting ID, go to any web or in-product Teams entry point and enter the meeting ID where indicated. If you cannot find your meeting ID or did not receive a meeting ID, you should contact the court coordinator or administrator to request the meeting ID or meeting invitation link.
How do I use Microsoft Teams on my mobile phone?
What can I do once I am in a Teams meeting?
Before you join the hearing and while you are in the hearing, there are a few features you can use. Read and watch Microsoft's video Tips for Teams meetings for an overview of
Some of the features discussed in the video may not be available depending on what your court allows. Read below to learn about using video, audio, chat, sharing evidence, and breakout rooms.
During a Microsoft Teams hearing, moving the mouse brings up a ribbon of meeting options across the screen. Participants can take the following actions:
- Click on the camera icon to turn the video on and off;
- Click on the microphone icon to turn the microphone on and off (mute and unmute);
- Click on the share icon to share a document on the screen for all participants to see—this option may only be available to the court;
- Click on the ellipsis (…) for more options, including checking device settings, blurring your background, and turning off incoming video;
- Click on the show conversation icon to see the chat window on the right-hand side of the screen;
- Click on the show participants icon to see a list of all the participants in the hearing;
- Click on the red phone icon to end the meeting when the hearing is finished.
- In the desktop app, participants can right-click on up to four participants’ videos to pin them to the screen so that they are always visible.
- If you are using the web browser version, by default, Microsoft Teams will display the video of the person speaking. One participant’s video can be pinned by either:
- Clicking on ‘show participants’ to bring up the people menu, click on the ellipsis next to the participant you want to pin, and select ‘Pin’; or
- Right-click on the circled initials of the participant you want to pin.
- If you have Participant A pinned, to pin Participant B, you must first ‘unpin’ Participant A. Note: on different devices, these options may appear in a different location. For example, on an iPad, the show conversation/chat function, and the show participants/people function are in the top right corner.
How do I control my video in a Teams meeting?
Read "Using video in Microsoft Teams" to learn how to turn your video on and off, change your background, use video filters, change your view of other participants' videos, and other video controls. Note: Some of these options might not be available to you in your hearing. These instructions are not specific to using teams in hearings.
Read the article "Change your background for a Teams meeting" for more details on how to change your background on desktop and mobile.
If the background feature is available, only use the blur effect or select a professional background. Do not use a funny or unprofessional background. Even though your hearing is virtual, it is still a real hearing in a real courtroom and should be taken seriously.
How do I control my audio in a Teams meeting?
Read "Muting and unmuting your mic in Teams" to learn how to prevent any unwanted noise and to unmute yourself when you need to speak.
If people in your hearing cannot hear you, you might be having trouble with your mic settings. Read "Manage audio settings in a Teams meeting" to try and fix your issue.
Even though you should be in a quiet setting for your virtual hearing, there may be unavoidable background noises that come in when your mic is on. Read "Reduce background noise in Teams meetings" to learn how to control those unwanted sounds.
How do I use chat in a Teams meeting?
Read about the Chat Feature to learn about using the chat feature during your virtual hearing, if it is enabled. Courts may create group chats between users in the call for you to participate in.
Warning: Only use the chat feature if you are told to by the court. Do not use the chat feature to talk to your lawyer unless directed to by your lawyer. Do not ever use the chat feature to talk to the other party.
If it is enabled, you can also raise your hand during a Teams meeting. This feature allows other participants to know you have something you want to say without interrupting the other speakers.
How do I share evidence with the court on Teams?
If the court your hearing is in requires parties to share their screen or upload an exhibit to present as evidence, watch and read the below videos and articles. If your court's virtual hearing procedure has different rules, follow those instead.
Read and watch "Upload and share files" to learn about file sharing on Teams.
What is a breakout room and how do I use it?
Courts will sometimes use breakout rooms during a hearing for breaks or to discuss issues with attorneys or parties separate from the main hearing. If you are invited to a breakout room during your hearing, you will need to be sure you know how to enter and exit a breakout room without accidentally ending your call. Read about joining a breakout room to prepare in case it comes up in your hearing.
What are the system requirements to join a Microsoft Teams meeting?
You can have a Teams meeting on any device (Windows, iOS, Android, or Linux) or on the web. See the specific hardware requirements for meeting using the Teams app.
I'm having trouble using Microsoft Teams, where can I get help?
Click on the "Help" icon on the bottom left corner of the app, and then pick one of the following:
- Topics to find articles about many of the issues that users experience on Teams.
- Training to find and watch videos on how to use Teams.
- What's New to see the most recent changes made in Teams.
If you are still having trouble using Teams, visit the Microsoft Teams Troubleshoot page.
If your problem happens during your meeting, let the court know as soon as possible that you are experiencing issues.
Virtual Court: Procedure