Some businesses are starting to open up for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, but many courts are still relying on technology like Zoom for hearings, mediations, and other courtroom matters. Here are a few answers to some commonly asked questions about virtual court hearings in Texas.
Can I Still go to Court if It’s Been Shut Down due to COVID-19?
Courts across Texas are utilizing Zoom to hold essential hearings without breaking social distancing guidelines. Get in touch with your court coordinator and ask about your court’s procedure. The Supreme Court has ruled to allow virtual court hearings at least until September 30, 2020.
Can I Reschedule my Hearing?
Ask the opposing side and the court coordinator if rescheduling is an option. Some hearings have already been rescheduled, so make sure that isn’t already the case for you. You can also file a motion for a continuance, which will allow your trial to start later on.
What if I Can’t Appear in Person?
If you can’t appear in court for health or safety reasons, communicate this to your court coordinator. More courts in Texas are using Zoom to perform hearings, so it shouldn’t be a problem to schedule a virtual hearing.
How do I Know if My Hearing is on Zoom?
If you aren’t sure about how your hearing will be performed, ask your court coordinator. They’ll be able to give you all the information you need about your court date and where it will take place.
Is A Virtual Courtroom More Casual?
Virtual courtrooms aren’t meant to be more casual than in-person court. The presiding judge will expect the same amount of respect from you and your legal team, and you’ll still be expected to follow all court rules during a virtual hearing.
How do I Show Evidence in Virtual Court?
Evidence is most commonly being handled by court coordinators who will manage it and show it to the court only when the time is right. Email your evidence to the coordinator and be aware of any deadlines there might be for sending documents in.
What are Some Tips for Appearing in a Zoom Courtroom?
Test your Zoom connection multiple times before your hearing, especially if you’ve never used Zoom before. Try to choose a neutral background and wear a solid colored shirt. Sit in a well-lit room and place your camera at or above eye level. Be mindful of where you’re looking and try to look directly at the camera, not the screen, when speaking.
What Should I Do if I’m Struggling With my Internet Connection?
Test your internet connection multiple times in the days leading up to your hearing. If you’re having issues getting or staying connected, email your court coordinator ahead of time.
How do I Request to Appear by Phone or Video Call?
If your hearing isn’t already scheduled virtually, you might need to file a motion for the use of emergency procedures.
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