We have talked about attorneys and the courts getting prepared for virtual trials. In fact, attorneys have transformed conference rooms into virtual trial court rooms with big screen televisions to view the jury, multiple computers to upload documents and to watch the witness who is testifying; podiums or stand up desks; and the addition of multiple cameras, microphones and lighting.
But are you prepared?
The Courts have warned us and the counsel who have gone before us have advised us that virtual trials will take more time.
We have been informed that jury selection may take 3 to 4 days.
Additional time will also be needed to prep the witness—working on voice inflection, body language, and getting the witness comfortable speaking into a camera not looking at their screens. Likewise, we will need to prep the witnesses on how the exhibits will be presented, and discuss whether they can have a hard copy in front of them as compared to sharing the document on the screen. There will also be a need to find the best location for the witness, considering factors such as a neutral background, strong wi-fi or should the witness be brought to a different location such as another conference room in the office.
On top of the additional preparation time, the trial will take longer as there will be built in breaks to reduce “zoom fatigue.”
Have you considered if you are truly prepared to sit through trial? What does your background look like? Is your background appropriate? Is your wi-fi strong enough?
A simple, one plaintiff– one defendant case with two medical experts, which would have lasted 4 to 5 days pre-COVID, may now take 10 to 15 days. With all this added time in preparation and trial, have you and counsel conferred about potential increased trial costs, and how that may influence settlement decisions?