As America has begun the slow reopening process, Florida ABOTA and 17th Judicial Circuit (Broward Courts) have put on their first mock jury trial via Zoom. This test was simply to explore the different ways court can be conducted in a post COVID-19 era, especially in Florida. While it's only a small step in the journey of virtual trials, there is certainly additional work that needs to be done before this process is perfected. You can view the entire mock trial here.
Advantages of Using Technology in Court
Virtual court has always been in the talks, but was never carried out until recently when it had to be due to shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders. COVD-19 has casted a harsh light on the outdated way justice is dispensed and how legal services can be delivered. With many jobs moving to fully remote work, you have to ask yourself, how many of these workers will ever return to the physical work place? Just like many jobs which are now remote and utilize Zoom for meetings, many trials can be carried out utilizing the same technology from the comfort of your home. Moving trials to the virtual world can increase productivity by eliminating the commute and increase the amount of trials which can be carried out in a day. Lawyers can now represent a client in Miami, and client in Tallahassee in one afternoon.
Is a Zoom Jury Trial the Wave of the Future?
As jobs become remote permanently, advancing the way in which court can be carried out should be as well. If these mock trials done via Zoom lay a path which lead to successful remote trials, the way which court can be conducted will forever change in America. Just this week in Texas, the first civil court trial was held completely remotely via Zoom with more than two dozen jurors logging in for jury selection. As one Judge said, it may be ways away from happening in a criminal court, but more likely there will be a hybrid use of this technology moving forward. You can see the video below. A similar pilot system was just announced by Florida's Chief Justice to begin the testing phases of civil jury trials conducted remotely.