Now, court operations during a Covid-19 world have litigants, attorneys, and the Judge appearing on a computer screen via Zoom, Skype or some type video conferencing for all court proceedings. The legal profession is debating the merits of litigants and attorneys appearing virtually. In the “old days,” before Covid-19 was circling the globe, everything was done in person; the litigants and the attorneys had to dress appropriately, travel to Court, interact while waiting to be heard, stand in front of a judge and everyone involved got to meet, face to face, all of the players.
Has this “cheapened” or affected the impact of the courtroom experience? Does a Judge on a computer screen impact attorneys and litigants differently than a Judge twenty feet away in person? Can a Judge properly evaluate credibility — the body movements, the eye contact, the physical behaviors — of a witness via Skype? These and many other questions remain.
What is certain is that the Court itself does not expect a return to the old system but has not yet let us know where we are heading. My best guess is some mixture of the old and the new. In any event, it is certainly a new world for all of us. Charles Darwin would be pleased, especially since such an old, entrenched profession as law has demonstrated the ability to change!