virtual court hearings microsoft teams

The virtual court hearings with Microsoft Teams, zoom and other platforms faced rise during the covid pandemic. With the new virus variants and the ongoing pandemic situation, courts expanded the use of virtual court hearing solutions for more types of cases and even started considering them as a long-term practice.

Using technology to solve the challenges in front of the justice during a pandemic is something good. But it should be also done with caution. According to a report published by the Brennan Centre for Justice, judges should adopt virtual court hearings via Microsoft Teams, zoom or any other video conferencing platform with big caution, because this technology may also pose challenges for fair judicial proceedings. 

virtual court hearings microsoft teams

The Brennan Centre for Justice identified a couple of principles that must be followed to ensure that courts would be able to reap the benefits of virtual court hearings without falling into the traps and challenges of the new technology.

1. Connect with different users of the justice system

The remote court hearings and virtual judicial proceedings are being adopted for the sake of public health and judicial efficiency. Without technology, the court can hardly find a balance between these priorities. But the court also needs to engage with other court users as well to get virtual justice done right. Judiciary institutions must listen to stakeholders from inside and outside the justice system. 

For example, they should address the special needs of people who are likely to suffer from the remote court procedures – those are people with disabilities, immigrant communities, etc. To get the full picture, it’s important to engage in this conversation with other court users as well – judges, prosecutors, public health specialists, other court employees, etc. The road to success of virtual court procedures goes through well engaged communities and institutions.

2. Personalize the virtual court experience according to the type of case

Depending on the court case – civil or criminal – virtual court proceedings may pose different challenges. These differences are dictated mainly by the complexity of the case, the involved individuals and other factors. For example, a court case for divorce has a very different picture than a court case for administrative sanctions. The different categories must be separated and discussed with relevant court users to find the best remote hearing formula for each. In other words, to contextualise the virtual court hearings means to find the balance. 

3. Consider the relationship between attorney and client

Virtual court hearings with zoom or Microsoft teams can reduce the opportunity for communication between attorneys and clients. That may affect the fairness of the court proceeding. It means that courts must adopt remote hearings technology that allows attorneys to have confidential communication with their clients during court hearings. Judges also have a strong responsibility to ensure that the involved parties are aware of their right to hold a confidential conversation during court proceedings. 

4. Self-represented litigants have to receive extra assistance

When a litigant is self-representing himself during a virtual court hearing, the court must ensure that the individual understands the nature of remote hearings. If the individual lacks knowledge and experience with such technology, the court must introduce individuals to the required steps for participating effectively in virtual proceedings. Those individuals may get the needed help via a special help desk, pieces of training and incentives for legal support to self-represented litigants.

5. Adopt technology standards

Virtual trials may turn into a disaster if the internet connection is poor. When a court user can’t be heard in the courtroom via remote connection, a technical support protocol must take action so that the issue can be solved as soon as possible. If the correct technical support guidelines are kept, these issues may be minimised and the efficiency of virtual court hearings maintained on a good level.

Casedoc’s Virtual Hearings for Microsoft Teams enables courts to explore all of the opportunities technology brings into the remote court proceedings. Stay tuned and have a look at our product page here. Or contact us for more info.

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