So… you have a WebEx/Google Meets/Zoom court appearance? You might appear via video, but technically you are in COURT, and you must be prepared to BE IN COURT as you are!
Tips and online court etiquette:
- You are in court, ALL THE SAME RULES APPLY.
- 90% of all communication is nonverbal. What you say matters less than how you say it in video court. The judge, the parties, and the world are watching you via video.
- Court is now in your living room. If you have a crying baby or a barking dog, everyone can see it and hear it. I can see it, the other side can see it, and the judge can see it. Why is this important? Your dog is not allowed in court. The better you present in WebEx/Google Meets/Zoom, the better you present to the trier of fact. It is important for there to be silence. Appear from a quiet location, NOT FROM A MOVING CAR!
- Lighting is also important. If I cannot see you, the Judge cannot see you, which is not good. Put your face towards the window, or very bright light, and allow the illumination to shine on your face, so I, the court, etc. can see your expressions and veracity. Place your face in the middle of the screen. It is tough to judge your truthfulness from a video of your forehead.
- EVERYTHING your camera captures is available to the world. Remember that you are in court. WebEx, Google Meet, Zoom, etc. should still be treated like regular court.
- WebEx, Google Meets, Zoom, etc. video court is bona fide court. You must behave as if you are in the courthouse building and courtroom.
- Cell phone use is strictly prohibited in the courtroom. Turn your cell phone off during video court. The only video that should be functioning is the device providing your video court. Do not use any other devices.
- Proper dress is required. No shorts, tank tops, or hats are allowed in any courtroom. This clothing is not allowed on your video court hearing either. Put on a tie, or blouse, and dress like you are in court.
- Children are allowed in the courtrooms as long as they are not disruptive during the proceedings. There is no daycare service at any of the courthouses. I, and the court, love children. However, if your child is screaming, court will be disrupted. Go to a silent room.
- There is no food or beverages allowed in the court. DO NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING ON A VIDEO CONFERENCE, NO EXCEPTIONS. It doesn’t sound very pleasant in video court.
- NO WEAPONS. No images of weapons, displays of weapons, or t-shirts with weapons. We live in Colorado, and I appreciate the second amendment, but it is inappropriate for court. Put on your church clothes, and do not have visible images of weapons.
- No drugs, alcohol, or anything objectionable. If the video can see your bottles or bong, the world will judge you. If you smoke, vape, light up, or otherwise. This would not be allowed in court, and must not occur during your video court hearing. It is important to have a white wall behind you and nothing else.
- Be seated with a neutral background, and do not walk around. If you are moving around, you will disrupt the hearing. Stay seated and silent, even when the other side is testifying.
- Do not participate in a Zoom hearing from a moving vehicle. Driving or not, it is dangerous and the connection has the potential to fail. If you cannot be in a stationary, well-connected environment, you have less chance of winning your case.
- Know how to turn on your video camera, microphone, and enter video court. Do this long before your court date and ten minutes before your scheduled hearing. Practice, practice, and more practice. The time to learn video court is not the day of your hearing.
- Your background should be neutral, silent, and well lit. Your dress should be neutral, well-lit, and respectful. Your face should be quiet, neutral, and well-lit, and in the center of your screen.
You are, in a video court hearing – IN COURT. Behave.
Want to learn what you should never wear in court?
Do you have any questions about online court etiquette? Contact me today.
–Don Kaufman (970) 947-1776 www.glenwoodattorney.com
Donald J. Kaufman, Attorney at Law
2520 Grand Ave, Ste 110, Glenwood Springs, Colorado 81601-4195 United States
(970) 947-1776 fax (970) 384-1776