In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts Family and Probate Courts have been using the Zoom platform to allow oral arguments to be heard using the Zoom video conferencing platform. For close to a year the Courts have been using Zoom, however, for those who have never used it, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate the virtual courtroom.
Despite not being physically present in the courtroom, the Zoom session is a court proceeding and will operate like a normal courtroom hearing. All participants are expected to act as if they are in the courtroom and observe the Court's rules, practices, and etiquette.
Below are some tips that we hope will help you feel comfortable with your Zoom hearing and give you a better understanding of what to expect when you log on with the Court.
Tips for Virtual Hearings
- You should be the only person in the room for your hearing. The court will stop the hearing if you speak or interact with other people that are not a part of the court proceeding.
- Minimize distractions. You should silence your cellphone, television, radio, or other devices in the area that could potentially be heard by other participants. You should also mute any other audio playing from your computer.
- Act like you are in court and look interested! Make sure you are dressed appropriately as if you are going to court. Do not slouch, lay down, or look bored. You should be focused on the hearing and giving the judge your full attention.
- Do not interrupt other parties when they speak. The judge will give everyone an opportunity to speak, and things get chaotic when more than one person is speaking.
- Do not walk around. Do not walk around with your device during the hearing, stay in one place to avoid losing an internet connection. Additionally, unless there is an emergency do not walk away from your camera during the hearing.
- Familiarize yourself with Zoom before the hearing. Prior to your hearing, you should decide which device you will use for your Zoom session. After downloading Zoom you can participate in a test session by going to https://zoom.us/test, from here you can test out features such as the virtual background, mute function, and display name.
- Ensure you have all required information. Prior to your hearing, verify you have received the Zoom Meeting ID and Password, and that you know the correct time to log in for your hearing. These can be found on the Notice of Assignment you received with your court date, but can also be found at this link as well.
With no end to Zoom hearings in sight, we hope these tips can help ease your fears about your next Zoom hearing.
If you would like to speak with an attorney about representing you at your next Zoom hearing, please reach out to schedule a free consultation.