Day of the Hearing

Warning: The information in this guide is not a substitute for the advice and help of an attorney. Speaking with a lawyer about your situation is a good idea. 

Checklist Steps

Even though this is a virtual hearing, you must dress appropriately and make sure that your environment is free from distractions. Treat your virtual hearing with the same seriousness as if it were an in-person hearing. People who would not be allowed in the courtroom may not be present in your virtual space. Children, pets, and other loud distractions should not be allowed in your personal space during your hearing.

About one hour before your hearing starts, practice connecting to your video conferencing program again. Running one last test will calm any concerns about technical issues and let you correct any lingering glitches. Adjust your microphone sensitivity, speaker volume, webcam, and lighting. Knowing your technology is working properly will give you an additional boost of confidence during your presentation.  

Review the materials in Virtual Court: Technology to refresh your memory of how to use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and CourtCall for your virtual hearing.

Many courts require you to log in to your proceeding five minutes before your hearing begins. Arriving early allows you time to figure out if you are having technical difficulties and gives you time to contact the court coordinator for help.

Be sure to keep your microphone on mute until you are asked to speak or intend to speak (in the case of an objection). Most courts will automatically mute all hearing participants when they connect to the video conferencing software. However, you should check for yourself as soon as you are connected.

Some judges will call the cases in order of the people that they can see. Whether or not your camera is on, make sure to pay attention so that you hear when your case is called.

When your hearing begins, be sure to look at the camera, or in the camera’s direction. Looking at the camera gives you the appearance of having direct eye contact with the other hearing participants. Some people might register direct eye contact as alertness and in some cases, honesty.

While it is okay to take notes and look around for several reasons, it is a great practice to try to look in the camera’s direction to maintain a connection with the other hearing participants.

If your judge or witness cannot hear you, they will show that on their face. If you think the judge or witness cannot hear you, make sure to ask if you can be heard and repeat any important points. Your goal is to make sure that you are effectively communicating your point. Paying attention to the other participants’ body language will help you decide if you are being successful.

Be sure to stay within the time that the court has allowed for your proceeding. If you do not believe the court has provided enough time for your proceeding, let the judge know why you need more time and how much more time you think you will need. The court has a schedule that it must follow. Stick to it to ensure enough time for you to present your version of events.

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