Virtual Courtrooms & COVID-19: The New Normal?


In the age of the novel coronavirus, courtrooms across the country are turning to virtual video conferencing as a means to keep the wheels of justice in motion as social distancing and stay-at-home directives remain in place. In Ohio, where courts have significantly restricted in-person proceedings, virtual courtrooms have become increasingly common.

As the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, some Ohio courts are utilizing Zoom videoconferencing to conduct certain hearings, a big step for bureaucratic institutions subject to many rules, procedures, and traditions that were not designed for such technology.

To adapt, courts are installing webcams, microphones, and large video monitors which can allow those in the courtroom, often judges and few others, to communicate with jailed defendants and prosecutors, court reporters, defense lawyers and other personnel in courthouse or remote offices.

The effect is, somewhat eerily, mostly empty courtrooms; normal court fixtures such as jail deputies are also absent when videoconferencing defendants eliminate the need for them to appear.

The Franklin County Court of Common pleas – which authorized videoconferencing, teleconferencing, and related technologies for all actions and proceedings that have not been continued under the General Division’s Third General Order – has also limited courts to a 10-person maximum occupancy. Family members of defendants are still able to participate via teleconference, and submit statements to the court through attorneys.

Learn more about the coronavirus’ impact on local courts and Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Continuances.

Virtual Court Proceedings in Columbus

Though there far-reaching implications associated with the adoption of video courtrooms, including those concerning the lack of interpersonal gathering and jury panels being able to assess defendants in person, the move toward virtual court proceedings can help alleviate some issues and time-related setbacks courts have struggled with for years. For many, courts’ current tech-infused process of justice – born entirely in response to the coronavirus – may open the door not only to clearing a growing backlog of cases, hearings, and motions, but also to changing the status quo and how things may work beyond the end of the global health pandemic.

As the world waits for things to return to “normal,” there’s a very real possibility that, as with many other facets of our lives, it may be a new type of normal.

KBN: Proven Defense Team Available to Help

At Koffel Brininger Nesbitt, we are we are using Zoom to communicate with our clients every day. The effectiveness and efficiency of remote video technology is incredible. We are having more contact and more meaningful contact with our clients than traditional scheduled conference room meetings that can be a time burglar for clients.

If you have questions about COVID-19’s impact on your legal matter, or wish to discuss criminal charges in Columbus or the surrounding areas of Ohio, KBN is readily available to help.

Our team is working remotely 7 days a week for new clients and current clients while our physical office is closed. All new clients will be offered a reduced legal fee until May 1, 2020 to help through these difficult times. Contact us to speak with an attorney.