In the new normal, court hearings will not be as they once were. Whether it is Skype, Zoom, WebX or Teams, court systems across the country are using technology to keep the wheels of justice rolling. Implementation of new technology can have hiccups, but one recent trend has nothing to do with technological problems.
Are You Dressing Too Casually?
Recently, a judge in Florida made headlines when he complained that lawyers were dressing way too casual during Zoom hearings. Judge Dennis Bailey of Broward County Florida said, “We’ve seen many lawyers in casual shirts and blouses, with no concern for ill-grooming, in bedrooms with the master bed in the background, etc. One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers. And putting on a beach cover-up won’t cover up that you are really poolside in a bathing suit. So, please, if you don’t mind, let’s treat court hearings as court hearings, whether Zooming or not.”
Court is Court and You Should Dress Appropriately
While it is still a little early in the season to appear poolside in Minnesota, Sieben Edmunds Miller encourages lawyers who appear before a court to dress as if you were appearing in a real court for remote hearings. We understand that many of you have not changed out of your sweats for a month, but court is still court and you should try to dress appropriately.
Rule 2.03 of the General Rules of Practice for Minnesota District Courts states, “Lawyers shall appear in court in appropriate courtroom attire.” There definitely is some room to argue about this rule. Are you in Court when you appear remotely? What is appropriate courtroom attire? If you want to be the lawyer raising these arguments wear your finest pajamas for your next Zoom hearing. If this is not an issue you want to get on a soap box for, we suggest that you breakout that dusty suit (we hope it still fits.)
Practical Tips for Appearing Remotely
If a judge wants to hold a remote or virtual meeting, make sure you understand the app they want to use. Sometimes you need to download it before the hearing. Make sure that you test out the technology before your hearing. Here are 5 tips to make your first virtual court appearance a success.
- Make sure your microphone and camera privacy settings are set to allow access.
- Use headphones or ear buds during your hearing. They improve the audio quality for everyone.
- If you are not speaking, mute your microphone during your hearing. If your microphone is not on mute, any sound you make, be it a cough or your kids yelling will be heard over the actual speaker.
- Check your lighting. Too dark or too bright doesn’t work. Play around ahead to place your laptop, phone, or even computer monitor in a location that provides the right lighting.
- Make sure you have a strong internet connection. Stay as close as you can to your internet router. If you can disconnect other devices on your system, it may also speed up your connection.