Brian Tannebaum, Special Counsel in the areas of ethics and white-collar defense for Bast Amron, said in the Florida Record article
“Coronavirus ushering in a more efficient, technologically savvy legal system, observers say,” that he expects the technology to be used even after the current crisis has passed since it allows attorneys to avoid time-wasting drives to courthouses to take part in run-of-the-mill status hearings that typically last five minutes.
“I think that the judges are realizing that this stuff works and lawyers are getting used to it,” Tannebaum told the Record, adding that remote sessions would likely become the norm for non-evidentiary hearings. “… The time savings of doing these things remotely is going to drive how it becomes part of the system.”
Attorneys can navigate dress and decorum issues by examining whether an online session involves just a judge and a few lawyers versus a more formal session where there are multiple attorneys, a clerk, court reporter, corrections officials, and others attending, he said.
“I don’t think lawyers should be appearing shirtless,” Tannebaum said. “I don’t think lawyers should be appearing in their beds. But as far as the requirement of the full uniform, you have to realize that eventually, the public is going to join in on a lot of these hearings, and it’s going to show up on the news.”
Overall, those involved in such remote hearings have been cordial and waiting their turn to speak, he said, and the expected norms of the justice system are being maintained. But a question remains about how the public will adapt to Zoom meetings.
“My overriding question about this technology is that courtrooms are public,” Tannebaum said. “… I’m wondering how it will work for the public.”
But for those participating online, it’s largely a matter of getting people used to the technology, he said.
“The silver lining to all of this is realizing that there is a ton we can do without bringing a single person into the courthouse,” Tannebaum said.
Though jury trials will likely continue on an in-person basis, routine hearings will be dealt with through teleconferences, he said.
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