The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the Magistrates’ Court has been conducting court hearings using WebEx. As restrictions continue to change, it is likely WebEx court hearings will continue for the foreseeable future.
By learning what the correct etiquette is prior to your WebEx court hearing, you can be better prepared for your virtual hearing.
How to Prepare for a WebEx Court Hearing
There are a few important things you should do prior to your WebEx hearing:
- Use an electronic device that includes a camera function – whether this be a computer, laptop, mobile or tablet
- Decide where you will appear from – if you can’t appear with your lawyer, make sure you are in an appropriate area of your home (an office, a bedroom or a living area)
- Test your internet connection – you want to ensure that you have a strong connection (if you don’t, it may be a good idea to hotspot from your mobile device)
- Set your device up so the Magistrate can clearly see your face – you want your head, neck and shoulders to be visible
- Make sure your device is charged thoroughly and have a charger close by
- Have any documentation you may need ready (you will have to have this available electronically)
- Give the court your contact details – if you lose connection, the court will likely contact you directly
We also suggest purchasing a pair of headphones or a headset to use during the hearing. Not only is it hard for the Magistrate to hear you if there is notable noise in the background, but it also means you will likely get distracted and potentially miss something important that is said.
How to Appear for a WebEx Court Hearing
While a WebEx hearing doesn’t mean you have to physically go to court, you still need to dress appropriately.
Not only does this show the Judge that you are taking the hearing seriously, but it will likely mean you are in the right mindset for a court appearance. We strongly suggest you dress somewhat formally – a button-down shirt (that is done up modestly) and pants are ideal.
Keep in mind that while a virtual court appearance should be treated just as seriously as a physical court appearance, there are some slight differences. You won’t be expected to stand or bow when the Magistrate comes to the bench. However, we advise speaking to your lawyer about this prior to your court date.
What not to do in a WebEx Hearing
There are a few things you should avoid doing in a WebEx court hearing:
- Don’t wear anything that would be perceived as ‘casual’ (pajamas and tracksuits are a big no)
- Using a filter – we all know the story of the infamous ‘Lawyer Cat‘. While it is comical, you don’t want to be perceived as making light of a very serious situation
- If possible, don’t have children or pets in the room
- Speaking out of turn in court could result in further consequences – speak to your lawyer about when it is appropriate to speak in a hearing
WebEx Court Hearings – How to Appear & Prepare
No matter what the circumstance, a court hearing is stressful. By planning accordingly, you can avoid unnecessary stress. While this advice is based on our own personal experience throughout the pandemic, we highly suggest you speak to a lawyer about how to best prepare for your WebEx hearing.
Slades & Parsons are available to take your call 24 hours a day.
We are highly experienced in all aspects of criminal law. For further assistance please do not hesitate to contact our office.