Courtroom Zoom etiquette - Yes, it's that important.
Most people are aware of what Zoom is by now, but just to make sure we’re all on the same page, it’s a video conferencing platform that you can use on a web browser or a smartphone app to meet in real time. Provided you turn your camera and microphone on, it allows you to be seen and heard and to see and hear others.
It’s become an invaluable tool for courts, educators, and businesses during this era of social distancing, because it allows people to meet and collaborate during this time when we all must stay in our homes. But, as many of you are likely experiencing, it can sometimes be challenging to separate your home as a place where you relax, unwind, and wear what you want from a home that substitutes as your place of work.
Zoom court is still court, and should be treated as such. Even though you’re not physically present in a courtroom, you should dress and act like you are, no matter where you are logging into your hearing.
Some tell clients to dress in their “Sunday best” or as they would for a “job interview,” however, this can mean different things to different people.
We like to be more specific in what we tell our clients:
For women, that means a dress, a business suit, or at least a business-appropriate top and a skirt or coordinated pants and a blazer.
For men, a jacket, tie, collared shirt, and slacks are most appropriate, though just a collared shirt and tie can suffice.
Yes, even when you’re just pixels on a screen, dressing up communicates respect, and it’ll help put you in the proper frame of mind for court.
While there is a chat function on Zoom, I’d steer clear of using that at all. While we’re on that subject, make sure that your mic is muted and stays muted for the duration of a hearing — unless, of course, you’re specifically called upon by the judge to speak. A Zoom court hearing is like an in-person court hearing in that it’s best, as a client, to be quiet, and to try not to react to what’s been said. Grumpy faces are frowned up; in a Zoom meeting, a speaker may be very close to the web camera and so we have to be careful about our facial expressions!
If your soon-to-be ex is on the stand and saying things that aren’t true, that can be infuriating, but showing emotion has the potential to work against you. You don’t want to roll your eyes or express anger or do anything else that might raise a judge’s eyebrows.
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