Recently, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued a new order prohibiting most in-person court proceedings due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Only certain cases or proceedings that meet a particular criteria are allowed to be conducted in-person through the end of March of this year. Because of this order, many courts in Tennessee are holding virtual court proceedings, either through Zoom, WebEx, or other video means. Many of these proceedings are even done with jail inmates, rather than transporting inmates to court.
Even though virtual court is slightly less formal that appearing in court in person, it is still important to be respectful in court and act properly. If you don’t, it could be detrimental to your case.
If your court appearance is scheduled to appear virtually, here are some tips to follow:
- Download the program the court is using the day before and make sure you know how to log in.
- Make sure you have a reliable internet connection, if possible.
- Use a computer, if possible, so that you can communicate with your attorney by phone if needed.
- Log in on time.
- Dress appropriately as if you were appearing in person. For men, this means wearing at a minimum a collared shirt, and if possible, a tie. For women, a blouse or dress is appropriate, and long sleeves are preferred.
- Make sure your background is appropriate. A blank wall behind you is a good idea. If you do not have that as an option, make sure your background is tidy.
- Keep kids and pets away. Most virtual court appearances are fairly quick. Courts understand that sometimes children or pets at home appear behind you, but if possible, it’s best to be in a quiet room with a closed door. You can also ask your attorney to appear with them at their office as another option.
- Have your camera angled straight at your face. No one wants a view up your nostrils.
- Keep yourself muted until it is your turn to speak.
- Stay focused on court. While you may be home, it is still important to focus on court and not try to multitask during this time. Sit up straight or stand. Do not try to drive while appearing in court virtually.
In many ways, appearing virtually to court can be very convenient and possibly less intimidating. However, there are some circumstances where you may have a right to have an in-person proceeding, and it’s important to discuss that with a lawyer.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation about your case.