It has now been over a year since Covid-19 changed the way many of us do business. Courts are no different. Many court proceedings, including routine hearings and family court rule days are still being conducted via video conferencing, including Zoom. For the most part, they system worked out by the various courts has worked out well. But, it is still important to know how to participate in the video conference if you need to and to know what you should do and what you should not do if you have a court proceeding by video.
How to log in and participate
If you receive a notice from the court that you hearing will be held by Zoom, it will usually include instructions on how to log in. However, if that is not the case, you can proceed to the court's website, where log in instructions are prominently displayed. If you have a hearing in East Baton Rouge Parish, you can get instructions for civil cases here or criminal cases here. If you have court in Livingston or Tangipahoa parishes, you can find the instructions here.
You should log in a few minutes before the scheduled hearing. It is always a good idea to test both your video and audio feeds prior to actually log in. Zoom makes this easy, as the option to test both is always offered before you are actually connected to the conference.
What to expect when you log in
As a general rule, you will be in the video conference with the judge and all other participants and their attorneys. So, there are some things to remember:
- Leave your audio muted until your case is called or you are instructed to unmute by the conference host.
- Make sure your audio is on mute before discussing anything sensitive or having a conversation with someone on your end of the call.
- Ensure that you are in a safe and appropriate place. You should never drive while participating in a video court hearing.
- You do not generally have to have your video feed on to participate. However, if you are going to give sworn testimony, such as a divorce confirmation, you will have to have your video enabled.
Stay on the conference until your case is concluded. Remember, if you log in and answer the docket and then leave the call, it is the same thing as leaving the courtroom before you case is concluded. The court can and will proceed without you.
Do's and Don'ts
Remember, even though your hearing is being done by video, the normal court rules about appropriate dress and courtroom decorum still apply. If you would like to know more about those rules, check out our previous blog post. But, there are some special rules for video conference hearings"
- You are not allowed to record any of the audio or video from the conference. Violating this rule may result in you being held in contempt of court and/or criminally prosecuted.
- You cannot disrupt the conference or become belligerent to the court, the court staff or other parties. If you do so, the court may eject you from the conference and continue the hearing.
- To be admitted to the conference, the court must be able to identify you by your name. Make sure your first and last name show up as your conference ID. "iPhone", "Samsung Galaxy" or "Joe's laptop" are not acceptable ID's.
- If you will be presenting testimony, it is your responsibility to ensure your witnesses have a good internet connection and know how to operate the controls. You shall inform your witnesses and clients of the invitation and forward the invitation details to them.
- Do not interrupt or speak over others. If the judge directs you to mute your microphone, please follow those instructions. The judge will indicate when it is your turn to speak.
- Make sure you have proper lighting. Do not have a light source behind you, such as a window, as this will prevent participants from seeing you.
- Make sure there is no source of unwanted noise in the location you are using, such as a ceiling fan or barking dog.
- All documentary evidence expected to be utilized at the Hearing or Trial shall be delivered to and received by the court and all parties at least seven (7) days prior to the Hearing or Trial, pre-marked and numbered.