Courts throughout the state of Georgia have slowly begun to re-open and are finding new ways to work through the backlog caused by the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis. Many counties are now offering virtual options for certain cases to be processed via video conferencing using Zoom or other similar platforms.
Personal injury trial lawyer Matt Hagen has successfully represented his clients at bench trials in magistrate courts while standing in front of his laptop.
“It’s a unique experience trying a case to a judge that you can only see on your computer screen,” said Matt Hagen. “Although I do hope it’s not something that we all have to get used to for too much longer, Zoom Magistrate hearings offer a great way for our clients to seek the justice they deserve from the safety and convenience of their own living rooms.”
While there still is a learning curve, and occasional technology failures, the new virtual options have allowed victims seeking rightful compensation in Georgia to have their day in court and appear before a judge even amid a pandemic. Virtual courtrooms have additional benefits of convenience for everyone involved. Gone are the parking fees, dealing with traffic, long lines to get through security, navigating a courthouse, etc. Instead of waiting in a crowded hall, claimants are now waiting for their turn to see a judge from the comfort of their home.
However, Zoom Court may not work for all the court processes including jury trials. Mock jury trials using Zoom and a few small attempts around the country, demonstrated limitations and potential problems ranging from inequality of access to the technology, to Sixth Amendment rights, to how to manage distractions.
Continuing to hold virtual trials and remote court appearances on small claims in non-jury trials may be a new tool in the toolbox for attorneys, judges, and claimants even when the days of Coronavirus are fully behind us. Remote depositions and mediations have also become standard practice during 2020.
How to prepare for your upcoming Zoom magistrate court trial
- Make sure your computer, laptop, tablet and microphone work and have been charged fully.
- If you have not used Zoom before, do a practice run with your attorney beforehand.
- Make sure you set up in a quiet place where you can attend your virtual trial without noises or distractions.
- Dress for court from the waist up. Virtual attendance does not mean you can show up in your exercise clothes. Bring your Sunday best to Zoom court.
- Avoid chewing gum, eating or drinking, making faces, rolling your eyes and shaking your head. You wouldn’t do this if you were standing in person in the courtroom.
Get tech-savvy legal representation and choose attorneys who know how to fight for you just as competently in front of a screen as they do in person in a brick-and-mortar courtroom. If you need assistance with your personal injury claim, call our office for a free consultation.