Not the Trial You Are Used To

| by Network Depo Staff

There has been a notable shift in the last few months widely felt by counsel and their support staff as trial dates are being confirmed and motions for continuances are being denied.  The last 14 plus months effectively put Fast Tracked cases on hold and delayed the discovery process as in the back of everyone’s mind trial dates became an amorphous “some day” future event.  That some day is now.

With a year’s worth of remote proceedings, motions, and hearings under their belts, in concert with changes to the Code and the Judicial Council’s Emergency Orders, judges are far less inclined to grant a continuance of your trial. As a result, you and your support staff may be anxious to get your files organized, properly prepare for an impending trial, and ready to navigate within differing protocols and procedures in order to try your cases.  

Every judge in every department in every courthouse in all jurisdictions is adapting to the changing protocols differently. Whether you will be required to appear in-person, wear a mask, voir dire remotely, consider waiving a jury entirely or have the jury present remotely are just some of the variables you will need to consider as your trial date approaches. You will need to determine which path is most advantageous to you and your client. You have your work cut out for you.

You may have dozens of remote depositions under your belt by now, but most court reporting agencies and lawyers are using Zoom for depositions. If the court uses any of the other web-based videoconference platforms, you will want to spend a significant amount of time familiarizing yourself with that platform.  While they all operate in relatively the same manner, simple features such as the mute button or changing the view can be completely different. 

If you are required to wear a mask while trying your case, the importance of body language and how you present the evidence will be even more important than usual, as your facial expressions will be difficult to read while masked.

Keep in mind that if jurors are remote, their attention span may be diminished.  You will want to carefully decide how best to display the evidence in a compelling way, but also be prepared for technology to not always go as planned. Enlisting the assistance of a skilled trial presenter or remote technician to display the exhibits, and develop the video clips, may be the perfect solution for you and your clients. 

If you are appearing remotely, you will want to invest in an external microphone to improve your sound quality. It goes without saying that you must dress the part from head to toe, and even finding a way to mimic a trial podium might help you perform and add some needed comfort to an otherwise very different experience.

Keep in mind that many court reporting agencies started working entirely remote and switched to electronic only delivery of transcripts and video files for the last year. Make sure your staff can easily access all transcript and video files and if any hard copy originals are required, contact the agency in plenty of time for them to process and ship the original transcripts before you need to appear in court.

Network Deposition continues to be here for you as we navigate together the changing litigation landscape.  If you need to test your remote setup or schedule a skilled technician, please feel free to contact us.

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