Off the Record: Zoom Trials

Tune in monthly for a curated collection of articles we found interesting on a broad range of topics; some which are directly related to records management and others which might share common themes.

No, we didn’t write these articles —hence the name of this series, “Off the Record”— fortunately, we didn’t need to in order to share the knowledge with our subscribers

Trials by Video

The following articles consider the pros and cons of using online video platforms to conduct court cases. Let us know in the comments below how your government or agency retains their court proceedings via Zoom and how they file them.

The Jury is Still Out on Zoom Trials – The Verge

For many of us, our work lives have moved to the use of online platforms for continued operations and communications through remote settings-including the legal system, where court proceedings and hearings continue, conducted by video conference via Zoom. This article addresses probable information access issues in the lack of court transparency and accountability, the feasibility to access the courtroom through the internet, and courtroom etiquette outside the building. Additionally, the lack of human interaction and access capabilities of all trial participants may impact the court’s decisions credibility. With Zoom to carry out hearings, the article addresses the considerations to record the trials or broadcast live. It does not address what to do with the recordings outside from making them available to the public. The article is left open-ended for continued discussion of video trials– the seriousness, credibility, and accountability of the court and what it potentially means for future hearings.

Could Zoom Jury Trials Become the New Norm During the Coronavirus Pandemic – ABA Journal

This article discusses the potential legal issues of using Zoom in upholding the rights of the defendants and internet access realities in terms of speed, but also discusses the impact that using video may have in the rules and functions of court trials. It traverses the matter of transparency– from viewer access and the observable component to the evident distortion video screens relay to the spectator. A part of a trial is typically based on perception and how it’s built through narration; this changes when all the participants are separated from the space of the courtroom. That separation includes the loss of tactile presentation of evidence and human interaction. These are among the growing concerns of video conference trials becoming the norm.

Now Trending in Texas: Full-Blown Bench Trials Via Zoom – Law.com|Texas Lawyer

The use of video conference platforms took the place of in-person courthouses trials when the shelter-in-place/stay-at-home order went into effect across the state of Texas. Courts using platforms such as Zoom to continue to hold both criminal and civil hearings is a first for many. This not only provides a sense of business as usual, but also is a test to the court system’s adaptability. This article provides an example of a video trial as a “good test case” on how all parties-plaintiff, defendant, judge-agreed to the use of Zoom and to make the trial as efficient as possible. An example to highlight the disadvantages was not provided, but the drawbacks to the use of video include the lack of human interplay, technology glitches, and user experience. The final concern raised discusses possible effects teleconferencing will have on the practice and procedures of trials in the future.

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