Remote Court Appearances

While we understand most people aren’t excited about having to go to court, the process could now be a lot easier. Depending on the judge and court, hearings can be scheduled as in person or remote appearances.

But what is a remote hearing? A remote hearing is a hearing that does not take place in the actual courtroom. It could be held via your telephone or computer from a location other than the court. The court could also use the word virtual to indicate that you will not be physically present in the courtroom.

Courts now are using apps and software like Zoom, Teams, WebEx, or other video technologies to virtually connect the judge to the parties in the case. Your court will let you know. And in most cases, no special equipment is necessary.

You will receive a phone number to call or a video link to click with your smart phone, tablet, or computer. There may be an access code.

But contact the court immediately if:
  • You cannot appear on the assigned day/time. Judges will grant continuances for good reason.
  • You do not have the phone number, access code, or link to click. The court will provide it.
  • You do not have reliable internet access. Staff will give you instructions to dial in by phone.
  • You do not have a reliable phone. The court will allow you to appear in person.
  • You are connected at the appropriate time but see/hear nothing. You may have dialed wrong.
  • You lose connection during your case. If the judge knew you were there, s/he will make accommodations.
  • All court hearings are live and will be recorded, including virtual participants.
  • The judge may not decide the case the same day. You will be notified when a judgment is made.
  • You may have the right to appeal the judgment. The court may have a website or self-help information where you can learn what happens after the judgment.
  • Please see the following page for how to prepare for, and participate in, the hearing.
  • Make sure you have a good internet connection.
  • Check that you have the dial-in numbers or link to click.
  • Download Zoom, Teams, or other platform the court will use. Try it out to be familiar with the technology.
  • Email or drop off to the court copies of any evidence, documents, photos, or proof you will need. The court can give you instructions on marking them appropriately if necessary.
  • In small claims or civil suits, tell the court if you have witnesses. This should not come as a surprise to the other side, and the court will need to provide witnesses with appearance instructions.
  • Make sure you have enough power or minutes to stay connected. The judge will not rush anyone’s case, so you might be waiting while everyone has adequate time to say their piece.
  • Take your call or click the link from a quiet place where no one will interrupt you.
  • No windows or bright lights behind you. Make sure there is light on your face.
  • Position the camera to your eye level. If using your phone, prop it up so your hands are free.
  • Use earphones whenever possible. This leaves your hands free and improves sound quality.
  • Have all evidence or documents ready, including notes of the main points you wish to make.
  • Be ready five to ten minutes early in case you have connection problems. Do not wait until the last second!
  • Dress and act as if you are in the courtroom: no profanity or obscenity, no hats, no ‘tube tops’, no chewing gum, smoking, eating, or drinking (other than water). You may be at home, but this is still a court hearing and the judge expects the same respect for the process and other people.
  • Begin the call with your device on mute. Introduce yourself when called. Mute when not speaking.
  • Only speak when called. Take notes to remember what you want to say when it is your turn.
  • Pause a moment after you unmute in case there is a communications lag.
  • Speak slowly and calmly; do not interrupt. Fast or loud voices get distorted in a virtual hearing room.