Below is a summary of the best practices identified throughout this guide and a checklist that you may find useful in preparing for your hearing.
Prior to the scheduling of your hearing:
√ Obtain an e-mail address, if you do not already have one.
√ Confirm whether the device you plan to use (computer, smartphone, tablet) meets the hardware requirements for Microsoft Teams.
√ Test your internet connection and speed.
√ Download Microsoft Teams on your device and, if possible, a secondary device.
√ If using Microsoft Teams on your computer (laptop or desktop), download a web browser other than Internet Explorer, such as Google Chrome.
√ Promptly respond to the court’s notice asking for your e-mail address and phone number.
√ Identify a quiet location, with minimal distractions, proper lighting, and a neutral background, for you to participate in the hearing. If using Wi-Fi, find a location as close as possible to your router or modem. Arrange for hard-wiring, if possible.
√ Arrange for any other equipment that you may need, e.g., headset, second screen, Wi-Fi dongle.
After your hearing is scheduled
√ Ensure that you, your client(s), and/or witnesses have received the Microsoft Teams e-mail invitation. Confirm that there are no scheduling conflicts.
√ Ensure that you, your client(s), and/or witnesses have the proper devices and have Microsoft Teams installed. Confirm that the devices are working properly. Schedule a test run.
√ Test Microsoft Teams from the location you plan to participate to confirm it is working properly and that you, your client(s), and witness(es) are familiar with its basic features. Make sure there are no security restrictions on your device preventing the use and launch of Microsoft Teams.
√ Review the virtual courtroom etiquette and protocol.
√ Instruct and prepare your clients and witness(es) as to the virtual courtroom etiquette and protocol.
√ Consult with the other parties regarding a plan to conduct the hearing, stipulations of fact, and the issues to be decided at the hearing.
√ Exchange all exhibits you intend to introduce into evidence. Determine which may be admitted as full exhibits, and which should be marked for identification only.
√ Redact all personal identifying information from sensitive documents prior to submitting the documents to court.
√ Provide the court with physical copies (hardcopies) of all documentary evidence.
√ Read all relevant case documents before the hearing.
√ Determine whether you, your client(s), and/or your witness(es) require an interpreter or an accommodation under the ADA.
√ Determine a method for privately communicating with your client(s) or co-counsel during the hearing.
√ Identify your technology support contact in the event you run into any technical difficulties, and establish a contingency plan.
The day of your hearing:
√ Retest Microsoft Teams to confirm it is working properly and that you, your client(s), and your witness(es) are familiar with its basic functions. Refamiliarize yourself with the basic features, if needed. Make sure there are no new security restrictions on your device preventing the use and launch of Microsoft Teams.
√ Prepare all your equipment, e.g., computer, screens, microphone, headset, camera, phone, battery chargers, and power adapters, and confirm they are functioning properly.
√ Ensure devices are plugged into power outlets and wireless devices are fully charged.
√ Test your internet speed and connection. If you are sharing internet connection with others in your household, limit their use. Use a hard-wire connection, if possible. Turn off the Wi-Fi connection on other devices.
√ From the location where you will be participating, test your camera to ensure a clear line of sight and test your microphone. Ensure there is proper lighting in the area and minimal distractions/interruptions.
√ Close all programs not needed during the hearing and mute messaging and notifications on your devices.
√ Have your contingency plan (e.g., using a secondary device, joining using a telephone number and conference ID) in front of you in case you run into technical difficulties during the hearing.
√ Confirm that you have downloaded and have access to all of the required documents and exhibits for the hearing.
√ Review, and remind your client(s) and witness(s) of, the virtual courtroom etiquette and protocol.
√ Sign into the Remote Justice Virtual Courtroom via Microsoft Teams 10-15 minutes early. Wait patiently for your hearing to begin.
During your hearing:
√ Follow virtual courtroom etiquette and protocol.
√ Inform the court at the start of the hearing if you are having, or may experience, any technical difficulties during the hearing.
√ Notify the court at the start of the hearing of any requests for an interpreter or ADA accommodations.
√ Notify the court of any possible interruptions or distractions, e.g., children.
√ Follow the ground rules set by the judge. If you require further clarification, please ask.
√ Do not interrupt other participants when they are speaking or attempt to speak over them. Make sure that a participant is finished speaking before you begin.
√ Check that your microphone is unmuted before beginning to speak. Speak clearly, slowly, and concisely. When you do speak, speak directly into the microphone and look directly into the camera lens.
√ No eating or drinking (with the exception of water).
√ No use of cellphones, unless it is for the purpose of participating in the hearing.
√ No recording of any kind or taking screen shots/pictures of the hearing.
√ Do not use the Screen Share or Hand Raise features of Microsoft Teams. Only use the Chat feature to inform the court of any technical difficulties.
After your hearing:
√ Submit additional information to the court if required to do so.