Trials. Exhibits. In Person. Remote. Hybrid.
We have many options, now that we're slowly climbing our way out of a global pandemic. Pre-COVID, we had only a few common options. During the first part of COVID, we literally had none. Rather quickly, the lights began to turn on again, even if most of those were monitors glowing, as opposed to courtroom lights.
Now most of us have become proficient in online trials, arbitrations and depos. It took a pandemic to implement technology that has already been available for years. While there are both benefits and drawbacks to remote technology, it is here to stay -- maybe not in all cases, but certainly for many.
Jury Pool - This was one of the first challenges to the notion of remote trials. Jurors without adequate internet access would be excluded. While this is true, jurors with inadequate internet will also be even more likely to have concerns with transportation and the ability to spend one or more days away from home.
Judging Credibility - Another key talking point for many opposed to remote trials is the ability to "read" a witness. While I would agree that is easier to interpret facial expressions and other gestures when standing at a conversational distance to an unmasked person, this is not the case when you add 30-40 feet of distance between individuals, and then add masks. In fact, it is far easier to see an individual's facial expressions via video display when they are unmasked and appearing with a "typical" webcam profile view distance.
Ability to Effectively Communicate - Although this is perhaps the strongest argument made by those who would insist that cases cannot be tried remotely, the mere fact that one attorney can tower over another in stature and volume in a courtroom does not necessarily add to the evidence. One interesting (and maybe good) observation has been that everyone appears about the same size, and at about the same volume level when appearing remotely. The playing field has been leveled.
We will be looking at putting it all together in upcoming posts.