The Post-COVID (Remote) Courtroom: Digital Bailiffs, Best Practices, and Perspectives on the Staying Power of the Remote Courtroom – Episode 21 [PODCAST]

On this episode of the IMS Insights Podcast, we’re joined by visitor Jeff Dahm, IMS Director of Trial Presentation and Expertise, to debate sensible ideas for making ready for distant courtroom hearings and occasions, the challenges and alternatives of digital courtroom environments, and the potential for sustained adoption of sure varieties of distant courtroom occasions.

Teresa Barber: So, hello, Jeff. Welcome. So glad you have been capable of be a part of us right this moment on the IMS Insights Podcast.

Jeff Dahm: All proper, thanks, Teresa. Thanks for having me once more. It’s so nice to be right here with you.

Barber: I’ve been actually as a result of you’ve gotten been performing some actually attention-grabbing work currently. And clearly, everyone knows about the world pandemic and it’s created quite a bit of disruption, quite a bit of negativity has come out of it, however one of the issues I’ve heard you point out was there’s truly been a bit of bit of some optimistic sprouts occurring, particularly in the authorized house. Are you able to inform me in the event you suppose that there have been any optimistic outcomes to occur over the final yr or so?

Dahm: I imply, it was, as everyone knows, I’m positive for everyone, I imply, 2020 was a tricky yr. And it was particularly powerful for courts as a result of of the lack of in-person hearings, in-person trials. That simply went away or went to a really minimal quantity in the method we might do it. So the complete trade had to determine how are we going to do that? How are we going to maintain circumstances going ahead and pivot to on-line proceedings? That was the query. So earlier in the yr, final yr, when all the things shut down, all of us needed to determine how we have been going to do that and the way it’s going to return about.

Dahm: And so I’m actually joyful to say that for the previous seven months, eight months, the authorized trade actually has pivoted to working in on-line proceedings to maintain litigation transferring ahead. And it’s at a smaller clip, a smaller quantity, however it’s positively there. And it’s been fairly a studying expertise for everyone in the trade and for me, and for technicians and for consultants and everyone. It’s simply been an important pivot to a web based world, and it really works. It actually does. That’s the stunning factor, it actually does work.

Barber: So who would have thought, proper?

Dahm: Proper.

Barber: So, however I suppose we have been catalyzed, the litigation group was type of catalyzed by the occasions of final yr. And Jeff, you’ve dealt with a quantity, sizzling seat trial presentation, you’ve dealt with a quantity of digital occasions, since we began to essentially see some adoption of hearings and arbitrations. Definitely, you’ve gathered a pair of issues to be careful for, pitfalls to be conscious of. What’s your recommendation?

Dahm: So I’d say the largest pitfall is that persons are not treating a web based continuing prefer it’s the similar impact as it’s in courtroom. Folks suppose simply because they’re at their house workplace, they’re not dressed up, all the things, that they’re not going to courtroom, that they don’t must deal with it the similar. And I extremely disagree. You actually must … I imply, it’s simply as essential. The weight is simply as essential. So you want to plan precisely such as you’re going to be in courtroom.

Barber: There’s nonetheless some decorum.

Dahm: Yeah. I imply, there’s. It’s a must to know it’s. It’s actually essential to plan, to consider what you’re going to point out, the way you’re going to point out it, if you want to show proof. If you want to show movies, depositions, something. It’s a must to take into consideration this stuff and do it. And quite a bit of folks earlier than the pandemic actually weren’t utilizing videoconference software program as a lot as a result of folks would fly. You fly to the boardroom for a two-hour assembly otherwise you fly to courtroom on your two-hour listening to. And folks didn’t give it some thought as a lot, however now you type of must. So everyone’s shifting.

Barber: Sure. It’s attention-grabbing. And I need to get into some of the planning in a second, as a result of I believe that’s actually attention-grabbing and a helpful matter. However simply enthusiastic about the decorum and type of the administration of the continuing, proper, the listening to, the occasion, a number, the technical bailiff, what’s the time period? And what’s the use of that in a brand new, fully new distant setting? Are you able to clarify a bit of bit about how which may work?

Dahm: Certain. So now that we’re all going to those on-line proceedings, the one factor that was not apparent after we started doing that is you actually need somebody to regulate the complete scenario that’s not concerned in the litigation. You want a number. So we began calling them a number, the technical bailiff. So what this particular person does, is their final objective is to ensure the proceedings run as clean as potential with as little interruptions as potential. This particular person performs a impartial occasion for all, for everyone. And they also’re working for everyone to make it possible for everyone’s linked. They’re accountable for the coordination of the continuing, they ship out the assembly invitations, they coordinate with the events and the arbiters to have a joint session to check. They take care of the doc repository. They maintain the witnesses in a breakout room, till they’re able to deliver them in.

Dahm: Just about they’re ensuring that the complete factor runs easily. And I’ve been in proceedings once they don’t have one. And let me let you know, it’s not enjoyable. As a result of it was all the time somebody, their connection’s not working, they will’t get the display share to work. And the technical bailiff or the host has solved all of these issues earlier than the proceedings start, so you’ve gotten this clean continuing. However whenever you don’t have one, these haven’t been solved earlier than, and it simply creates an extended continuing. It’s extra hiccups, extra breaks. It’s fairly irritating at instances.

Dahm: The technical bailiff and the host is just not as widespread in a courtroom listening to as it’s in arbitration as a result of often the courtroom hearings, they’re the ones internet hosting. The courtroom is internet hosting the continuing. However in arbitration, the arbiters wish to either side to say, “Hey, how are we going to make this run smooth?” And so either side are going “Okay, well let’s get a host.” And this has been the latest evolution of my job and my profession is creating this host place. And sizzling seat operators have been working in the courtroom, they’ve been shuffling issues round at a extremely excessive tempo, citing paperwork actually fast, ensuring all the things strikes at 100 totally different instances, various things without delay—they’re completely designed for this function, and it really works nice.

Barber: I can see the translation there, simply into a special platform. And actually crucial to, I imply, we take into consideration simply, a board assembly, proper? Any form of dialogue, simply having the ability to handle it. That makes tons of sense. And one other phrase you talked about—we have been chatting the different day—and you talked about Zoom trial prepared. What’s that? What does that imply?

Dahm: Okay. So I’ve been saying this to my purchasers. And simply to make it possible for they’re prepared for his or her trial, I’ll ship them an e mail saying, are you Zoom trial prepared? They usually’re like, “What?” What meaning is there’s a lot to consider in the event you’re going to have a Zoom trial or only a videoconference trial. Whether or not it’s Zoom or whether or not it’s—I take advantage of and favor Zoom—however in the event you Webex or Skype, no matter you’ve gotten, you probably have a Zoom trial, it’s a must to prepare.

Dahm: It’s a must to make it possible for your digicam is true, and it appears good on you. It’s a must to be certain that your lighting is right. You must make it possible for your microphone is sweet. You must be certain that your background is sweet. There are such a lot of issues to consider. It’s a must to take into consideration your video. It’s a must to take into consideration your audio. How are you going to sound? How are you going to look? How are you going to show your reveals? You must take into consideration all of this stuff simply as if you have been in trial, you’d take into consideration all the issues it’s a must to do to be in trial in particular person. You’ve one other checklist, simply as lengthy, to be prepared for trial on Zoom.

Barber: And I’d think about that’s essential, proper? As a result of the distant expertise, that distant platform can actually amplify, you understand—it may possibly amplify all the things.

Dahm: Oh yeah, positively. You really want to ensure as a result of in the event you, you don’t flip your mute off and you stroll away and it’s simply, there’s quite a bit of issues it’s a must to plan for. You need to be sure you’re prepared.

Barber: And so there actually should be an ordinary setup that you’d recommend, proper? What would you, is there particular gear or particular issues that must be performed to essentially get to that place of (*21*)?

Dahm: Yeah. So what I’ve been doing is when I’ve our trial tech hotseat operator, now Zoom bailiffs, go into my purchasers’… Purchasers have been establishing their trial and saying, “Okay, we have a trial, we have a trial over Zoom, trial over Webex. We have to figure out how we’re going to configure this.” So I’ll ship a trial technician over to their workplace and plan their setup. And the common setup that I like to recommend is to have one room on your analyzing room. And that’s the place you arrange a digicam, a pc, a share display monitor so you’ll be able to see the reveals, a hoop gentle, you’ve gotten backdrop, be certain that all the things is a fantastically clear on your presentation. After which you’ve gotten that as your presentation room. And that’s the place everyone presents from. Then you definitely make one other room or one other convention room, your witness room, and you arrange a monitor and a pc microphone, gentle, the complete setup once more for a Zoom arrange for the witness room. And that’s going to be in a separate room.

Dahm: Now, whenever you’re in the foremost room the place you’re analyzing, you solely need to have one lively mic and one lively speaker. If not, you get suggestions. And that is actually the place the testing and preparation comes into play upfront as a result of you want to just remember to check all of these things earlier than you go dwell and you’ve gotten suggestions and you’ll be able to’t determine it out. So I’ve been sending technicians to my purchasers’ places of work to have the ability to assist them get Zoom trial prepared and it’s been very profitable. And it’s been quite a bit of what we’ve been doing currently. And purchasers are so joyful to do it as a result of these technicians know precisely what they’re doing relating to this. I imply, they know arrange for a Zoom trial. So it’s nice. It’s been actually efficient.

Barber: It’s attention-grabbing as a result of you concentrate on the legal professional group, not all the time the quickest to undertake new expertise. How are you seeing adoption and how open do you see purchasers proper now to creating these changes and saying, “Yep, I do need to be, and I want to be, Zoom trial ready.”

Dahm: So I began doing this in 1996, ’97. And again then, there wasn’t quite a bit of trial presentation in courtroom. So that you needed to persuade purchasers. I had so many pitches, so many conferences with purchasers to persuade them saying, “Trust me, this will work. You can bring a computer into the courtroom. You can set up monitors and show exhibits to jurors. And they will let you do it. And it’s very effective.” And that was a tricky promote for a lot of, many, a few years. Folks didn’t consider that you might deliver gear right into a courtroom and it’d be okay and you’d be capable to do it.

Dahm: So I really feel like I’m type of at the starting of my profession once more, the place I’m convincing purchasers, that that is nice, this works, it’s efficient. And so it’s simply been a hark again to the starting. And so you’ve gotten quite a bit of attorneys who’re Zoom shy. I prefer to name it Zoom shy, as a result of they don’t actually need to be on digicam and they don’t know do it. They usually’re reluctant to succeed in out. So I’ve simply been ensuring I’ve been having fixed communication with purchasers saying, “Listen, how are you doing? What do you need?” As a result of it’s daunting. In the event you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s very daunting. So it’s good to have folks assist you out who know what they’re doing.

Barber: At the similar time, it should really feel good when all the things works, issues operate.

Dahm: Sure, it’s fairly a nirvana. It’s fairly a sense.

Barber: And there are, you talked about Zoom and a quantity of different platforms, there are quite a bit of videoconference platforms on the market. If the possibility’s out there, are all of them the similar, are there preferences? Are there variations?

Dahm: Certain. So, I favor Zoom. They upgraded their safety final Could, and they’re equal with the relaxation of the safety. They observe strict safety procedures and all the things’s safe on their web site, on their platform. So there are lots of different platforms. I’ve used Webex, and Webex labored okay. Rather a lot of courts are utilizing Skype. Now all of them have their nuances and some are a bit of bit quirkier than others. The one which I’ve discovered that isn’t as quirky is Zoom. Zoom tends to be the one with the least quantity of bugs, the least quantity of quirky points for me in my expertise. And it simply appears to run the smoothest for the proceedings; there’s not a lot hiccups with Zoom.

Dahm: Additionally, persons are involved about the safety of the assembly, whether or not their assembly’s not going to be safe, particularly in an arbitration the place it’s confidential. So long as you’ve gotten a ready room enabled on your assembly and you’ve gotten a password on the assembly, nobody can get into your assembly. I imply, they’d must strive actually laborious to get into it. The stream goes over Zoom safe servers, so that you’re safe. I don’t have the hesitancy with it, like I did earlier than, as a result of everyone is absolutely safe now.

Barber: Yeah. There have been some classes realized, it appears, early in the pandemic. That makes full sense. So sizzling seat operator, everybody understands that in a courtroom setting. Is {that a} factor in a distant setting?

Dahm: Certain. Yeah. I do know. So hotseat operator as we all know known as that as a result of they’re in courtroom and they’re in the sizzling seat. So, and sure, you will be in the hot seat in an online proceeding, simply the similar. I’ve been in that sizzling seat just a few instances over the previous six months. It’s the similar. I imply, trial presentation software program works nice over videoconference . You possibly can share your display, and you’ve gotten an additional monitor hooked up to your pc—that’s your share display and that’s your show. So in the courtroom, when everyone would see the massive monitor, that’s your share display, is your monitor. So that you’re simply displaying everyone what’s on your share display to the complete assembly. And it really works. It really works superb. I’ve performed video. I’ve confirmed animations, paperwork, graphics. I’ve impeached witnesses. It’s actually labored nicely.

Dahm: I labored in a world arbitration. I used to be a sizzling seat operator in a world operator arbitration that was earlier this yr. And the purchasers have been all in Europe. Our host for the complete arbitration was in Florida. We had folks dialing in from throughout the world for this. There was 50 or so folks dialing in from throughout the world. And I used to be presenting proof for my consumer in Europe, from Oakland, California. And it labored nice. And the consumer was very joyful. And I obtained these … Once you obtain this one praise as a sizzling seat operator, the praise is, “You seem like you can read my mind.” And once I hear that go with, that’s my final praise. As a result of it reveals that we had a connection, that we have been doing the dance in the courtroom to deliver up the reveals. However we weren’t in the courtroom. We have been over videoconference. It labored nice, and it was clean and efficient. It actually did. I used to be shocked. And it did. So ever since then, I’m an enormous proponent of these on-line arbitrations. They work. They work.

Barber: That’s nice. That’s nice to listen to, Jeff. So when analyzing an legal professional over, and Jeff I may have your assist with this as a result of I need to be certain that I’m asking this query accurately, so Jeff, when an legal professional is analyzing a witness over videoconference, how does this work? Are you able to stroll us by what it appears like when it’s efficient?

Dahm: Certain. So the very first thing I’d say is, I’d advocate to my purchasers to check and observe. It’s a must to observe giving an examination to a witness over videoconference as a result of it’s totally different. It’s totally different. It’s not tough; it’s simply totally different. So you’ve gotten your examination. Your witness shouldn’t be in the similar room as you, as a result of it doesn’t work nicely with the audio and video. To allow them to be in one other location, one other room. When you have a sizzling seat operator that’s going to be presenting your proof, they are often in the similar room with you as your examination, and you’ll be able to mute your microphone and audio system since they don’t must be on—however they don’t must be in the similar room. When you have a sizzling seat operator on the line with you to have the ability to deliver up reveals, as you’re analyzing the witness, the sizzling seat operator goes to pay attention, have your define and deliver up the reveals as you’re going by it, to the share display that everyone can see.

Dahm: So it’s clean and efficient. And it does work. In the event you can have a dialog over Zoom, you’ll be able to have an examination of a witness over Zoom. And folks say you don’t get the similar results as you do in courtroom, however from my expertise, sitting in a convention room, watching all of these bins, you don’t have quite a bit of the distraction that you simply do in courtroom. So that you’re analyzing these video bins 10 instances greater than you’d in the event you have been in courtroom, taking a look at all the things. So I discover that I’m hyper-focused on these witnesses. And so that you get much more from the witness in a video field than you do in particular person, I must argue in some cases.

Barber: So it’s nearly as if, to not be ready, it’s a must to be cautious that these errors may very well be emphasised or amplified by the digital platform. However at the similar time, these optimistic influences on your technique and your case, they will actually get emphasised in an effective way in the distant setting. That’s actually attention-grabbing, Jeff.

Dahm: Yeah, they’re hyper-focused, it was actually unusual. I used to be all the time pondering earlier in the pandemic—I used to be like, “We’re not going to get the same effect as in court,” however you do in some cases. Now I must say, if it’s a prison trial you’d need to be in particular person, for the defendant would need to have, give their protection in particular person. I get that. However in arbitration, a contract arbitration that’s two corporations, battling over one thing particular… That may be performed over Zoom. That may be performed over an arbitration. I don’t see how that’s a hindrance in any respect.

Barber: I imply, simply on this dialog, I’m selecting up on a quantity of issues that you simply’re proud of and successes that you simply’ve been capable of see purchasers get to on this distant setting. There’s quite a bit of conjecture about how a lot of what we’re seeing now in the midst of actually pre-full vaccine, how a lot of the adjustments and the adaptation that we’ve seen over the final yr, many, many months, could also be sustained. What’s your sense of how a lot we may even see lasting adoption to issues like distant arbitration? What do you suppose?

Dahm: So I really feel like the pandemic has affected all the things in a everlasting method in our trade going ahead. I imply, I actually suppose that simply the complete concept that it does work over a videoconference goes to vary the truth that you’ve a listening to in New York for a San Francisco legal professional who has to fly to New York for a 15-minute listening to and come again. The courtroom is aware of these hearings are efficient now, and they will do it, as a result of they’ve needed to. You’ve been pressured into it and needed to do it. So that they notice, “Oh, wait, this actually does work.” And so I really feel like that is going to be, there’s nonetheless going to be a big proportion of hearings, particularly arbitrations to worldwide arbitrations, particularly, that they’re going to be over videoconference, as a result of it really works and it can save you cash.

Dahm: It’s cost-effective; it’s time efficient. It retains issues shuffling ahead quicker. I really feel prefer it’s a chunk of the litigation trade that was lacking, that was pressured upon us with the pandemic, and now it’s right here to remain and we’re going to make use of it, and we’re going to make use of it successfully.

Barber: It simply catalyzed this answer.

Dahm: It needed to occur. The expertise in litigation runs at the pace of molasses. So, it was type of pressured upon all of us and it’s going to be a long-lasting impact for positive.

Barber: Yeah. Very attention-grabbing, actually attention-grabbing second, Jeff. I can’t thanks sufficient for coming in and sharing some of this. It’s been actually attention-grabbing to listen to your tales from the discipline. I hope that you’ll think about coming again and giving us all an replace fairly quickly, as you get by just a few extra further ones…

Dahm: Positively.

Barber: Yeah, so all the time nice to talk with you, Jeff.

Dahm: You too, Teresa. Thanks once more for having me right this moment.

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