When every court went virtual in March, 2020, many attorneys and judges were skeptical. Nobody knew what to expect—this was completely unprecedented and not what anyone was used to. For many, it certainly took a bit of time to adjust. But now, many of those same attorneys and judges are realizing that there are some great advantages to holding hearings virtually. Here are just a few:
IT REDUCES CONFLICT:
Having court hearings virtually has really helped reduce conflict between parties, particularly in Family Court. For instance, a party might be afraid to leave the courtroom for fear that the other party may try to talk to them, or retaliate against them, or, worse yet, attempt to intimidate or physically harm them. Holding court hearings virtually allows the parties to leave the video conference when the hearing has ended, without the need to have any contact at all with the other party.
THE “MUTE” BUTTON IS A HUGE HELP:
The “mute” button has been a real benefit in virtual hearings, especially for judges. If, during a party’s examination, the other party is blurting out things like “that’s not true!” or “that never happened!” the judge has the ability to mute that party. This prevents the person who is having an outburst from interrupting the proceeding, and it enables the judge to pay attention to the witness who is testifying, without being distracted.
HEARINGS CAN BE RECORDED EASILY:
Another benefit of a virtual hearing is that it can easily be recorded. Most courts (including the Family Court in Maricopa County) have a system in place where either the video and/or audio is recorded. If either party wants a copy of that hearing, they can simply request one from the court. They can then download it on their computer and have it for their records. Having a copy of the recording is often more helpful than having just a transcript because it can be much clearer how things were said.
IT SAVES TIME AND MONEY FOR ALL:
Likely the most significant benefit of a virtual hearing is the amount of time and money it saves. When hearings are in person, there are often delays. Now, rather than driving to the courthouse and waiting in the hallway for the hearing to start, you can just hop on your phone or computer from the comfort of your home or office. There’s no need to pay for transportation to get to the courthouse, no need to pay for parking, and most importantly, no need to pay for your attorney’s travel/waiting time.
Overall, virtual court hearings have been convenient for judges and a great experience for most attorneys and litigants. They will likely will continue be the norm for quite some time, and for many types of hearings the arrangement could become permanent.
By: Logan Matura
At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Logan is passionate about children and families, and provides expert representation for her clients. Our firm handles Family Law cases in the areas of divorce, custody (now called “Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time), relocation (move-away), division of property, spousal and child support, modification actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today at 602-383-3610; or you can contact us by email through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com. We look forward to hearing from you.