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The Jury Is Still Out On Zoom Trials

The Jury Is Still Out On Zoom Trials

As cities throughout the United States proceed shelter-in-place orders as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, some in-person courtroom proceedings at the moment are going down over Zoom. “It’s an unprecedented moment for the justice system, which is typically slow to adapt to new technology,” writes Zoe Schiffer from The Verge. “No one is sure if that’s a good thing.” From the report: Critics fear the change has made it harder for the general public to entry courtroom proceedings. Court watchers — volunteers who monitor hearings to carry judges and prosecutors accountable — say their entry has evaporated throughout the pandemic. There’s additionally concern that distant hearings can unfairly benefit fancy regulation corporations that may pay for good lighting and secure web connections. Zoom has additionally had main safety flaws, together with default settings that did not embrace assembly passwords (an issue the corporate has now fastened) and a deceptive definition of end-to-end encryption. (The firm claimed conferences had been end-to-end encrypted; they aren’t.) But supporters say logging on is crucial for shielding public well being. For these in detention, suspending a listening to means doubtlessly spending extra time in jail, whereas showing in particular person might put the person and people round them in danger.

[Judge Vince Chhabria said] that whereas conducting distant trials is sensible throughout the pandemic, he is cautious of extending this past the disaster. “So much of trying a case from the lawyers’ perspective is having a feel for the courtroom and for the people in the courtroom and what is interesting to them,” he says. “So much of presiding over a trial, as a judge, has to do with feel. I think it would be unfortunate if the new normal became too reliant on remote proceedings.” His concern is echoed by Alan Rupe, [employment lawyer at Lewis Brisbois]. “A lot of what I do involves witness credibility,” he says. “When you’re assessing someone’s credibility you have to be in the same room as them.”

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