The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

All materials © Ted Brooks, unless otherwise indicated.

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Monday, June 27, 2022

The Online Courtroom: Hybrid and Remote Trial Considerations -- PART 1


Order "The Online Courtroom"

NOTE: This series will cover what happened, how we've adjusted, where we are now, and where we're headed. We will also offer numerous tips, tricks, and best practices for hybrid and remote trials. 

Looking back at our trial calendar, I added a note on March 9, 2020: COVID-19 BUSINESS STOP. I was at home in Southern California's South Bay (I also have a home office in the East Bay Area in Northern California), and the next important note I see is on March 27, 2020: BEACHES AND PIER CLOSED. Now, it's certainly a big deal when all the courtroom doors were locked shut, since our primary service offerings require us to be inside a courtroom. It's an even bigger deal when you cannot not work, but neither can you play!

We went from a busy and thriving trial support service provider with multiple trials calendared every month, to zero in the blink of an eye. It was quite a system-shock, to say the least. My case work calendar shows almost no billable work besides a few depositions until our first COVID-era trial in L.A. on a high-profile family law case, in which we were one of the first trials getting back into the courtroom in a nearly empty courthouse. It was a hybrid trial - which was a very rare thing at the time.

With the lack of billable time or trials to support, my calendar is littered with lots of Webinars, CLE programs, and several meetings and a bold entry on June 26-27, OCP Mock Trial. I'll go into more detail on that later.

I'm going to be sharing a lot of my personal experiences in this series, in addition, of course, to a bunch of technical tips and suggestions, many of which we've included in the first book to fully cover the topic from many perspectives, "The Online Courtroom."

I hope you'll follow along and enjoy it!

Quick Tip #1 -- Wi-Fi

Most courtrooms offer some level of public Wi-Fi access, and most court staff in these same courtrooms will tell you that it is unreliable, unpredictable, and not recommended for use in hybrid or remote trials. An industrial-strength hotspot with an unlimited plan (never throttled due to excess data usage) is recommended. Our tool of choice is the Pepwave Max BR1 Mini LTE Advanced, although there are several others available. I should also note that if you are hosting and running your trial over Zoom, it can consume 10GB or more per day, which is enough to kill most "normal" data plans.