5 Tips for Behaving in Virtual Court Hearings
Almost one and half years after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the U.S., it’s nearly impossible to list all the ways the virus has upended life as we know it. Many judicial proceedings ground to a halt as judges and attorneys scrambled to figure out how to make things work. By now, just about everyone has had experience with Zoom and other technology that makes virtual meetings—including virtual court hearings—possible.
Just because you’re attending court from the comfort of your own home, though, doesn’t mean you should relax the accepted decorum. Before your virtual court hearing, read our tips below to make the most of your appearance.
Tip No. 1: Make sure your technology works. Well before your court hearing—as in, more than 5 minutes before it starts—test out your computer, webcam, and microphone. You should also consider setting a virtual background that looks professional. At the very least, make sure you are well lit and that your real-life background is not cluttered.
Tip No. 2: Dress well. This is not exclusive to your top half, either. If you need to get up during the hearing, your business professional shirt will not look well with sweatpants. Your attorney should let you know the appropriate dress code.
Tip No. 3: Remove distractions from the room. Make a plan for someone to look after young children or rambunctious pets during your virtual hearing. You might miss important information from the judge if you are worried about quieting your kids or dealing with other distractions. Muting yourself when you are not speaking, which should constitute the majority of the time, ensures no extraneous noise will disrupt the hearing.
Tip No. 4: Be respectful. Just because you are not physically in a courtroom does not mean you shouldn’t act like you are physically in a courtroom. When addressed by the judge, say “your honor” and follow other rules of the court. Your virtual hearing is not the time to eat lunch, catch up on Facebook, drink alcohol, or smoke.
Tip No. 5: Look into the camera when speaking. This is not necessarily a requirement, but you can help your case by speaking clearly and confidently and not looking down.
Even though the usage of virtual court in Texas will continue to decrease, many of the tips contained in this blog are just as relevant for in-person court hearings. Preparation is key to a successful hearing, and that starts with a quality, compassionate Texas attorney.
Kimbrough Legal has helped countless Texans navigate the uncertainty of virtual court for more than a year now. Our team is experienced at cutting through the noise and stress of legal matters to help our clients reach their goals. For more information on how we can help resolve your family law matters or defend you against serious criminal charges, call us at (833) 553-4521 to discuss your options.