Maintaining a Professional Image During Zoom Hearings
As the result of the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic, conducting court hearings and other remote virtual court related proceedings have become common. Because of the computer and video platform, it has been observed that attorneys, parties, and other participants have tended to address the virtual hearings in a more relaxed, informal, and at times in an inappropriate manner.
As court officers, we have a duty to maintain a professional demeanor in order to preserve the dignity, integrity, and respect of the court. While Zoom now allows us to conduct virtual trials and hearings remotely, and at times even from our homes, it is very important that we maintain the same decorum, formality, and respect for the court and with all other participants in the virtual courtroom, just as if we were in the actual courtroom.
Judges will continue to appear in black robes during virtual Zoom hearings. Attorneys and court participants should likewise appear dressed in the same professional manner they would dress and appear in-person in a courtroom. Just as court participants would not wear T-shirts, jeans, hats, and similar clothing in a courtroom, they should also not dress in that manner while they are participating in a remote virtual Zoom hearing. This includes attorneys, litigants, self-represented parties, and witnesses.
Some further tips to maintain a professional image during remote virtual hearings:
- Be especially mindful not to talk over others who are speaking.
- Be conscious of your background. Use a blank wall or select a virtual background available from the Zoom resources. Avoid using your bedroom or other congested, unprofessional background.
- Mute your microphone when you are not speaking to avoid creating any extraneous and distracting noises.
- Test your video and audio connection and Zoom setup prior to the scheduled hearing.
- Speak closely to your microphone.
- Make sure you have sent proposed and labeled exhibits to the court and opposing counsel prior to the hearing.
- Speak and act in the same professional and respectful manner as you would in an actual courtroom.
- Avoid eating, drinking, or chewing gum during a hearing.
- Working remotely, and from home has its challenges, but avoid interacting with children, pets, third parties, and other distractions during proceedings.