By: Phyllis A. Ulrich
I was sitting at my desk thinking: What is the next article I can write for the Firm’s website Blog? I thought about how inconvenient it is for our attorneys to have to physically attend hearings in the various courts, having been spoiled during the Pandemic by attending hearings by telephone or by Zoom. I started to gather my thoughts for the article, when I decided – let AI write the article! I signed into my ChatGPT account and entered:
“write an article on why court hearings held by phone or zoom are better than in person hearings”
This is the resulting article. And it is good!
Title: The Advantages of Virtual Court Hearings: Why Phone and Zoom Proceedings Excel
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the legal landscape underwent a significant transformation as courts worldwide turned to technology to maintain access to justice. Phone and Zoom hearings became the norm, challenging the conventional notion of in-person court proceedings. While some may still pine for the traditional courtroom experience, there are compelling reasons why remote hearings have proven to be a viable and, in many cases, superior alternative. In this article, we will explore the advantages of court hearings held by phone or Zoom over in-person hearings.
- Accessibility and Inclusivity
One of the most significant benefits of virtual court hearings is the newfound accessibility they provide. Geographical barriers no longer limit participation. Individuals who would have struggled to attend an in-person hearing due to distance, transportation issues, or disabilities can now easily join proceedings. This inclusivity promotes equal access to justice, ensuring that all parties involved have the opportunity to participate fully.
- Cost Savings
Virtual court hearings can substantially reduce the costs associated with in-person hearings. The need for physical courtrooms, security personnel, and other logistical expenses decreases significantly. Parties involved also save on travel and accommodation costs. This cost-effectiveness can free up resources that can be allocated to other crucial aspects of the justice system.
- Efficiency and Time Management
Zoom and phone hearings often proceed more efficiently than their in-person counterparts. There are fewer delays due to scheduling conflicts or transportation issues. Additionally, the digital format allows for better time management, with participants easily transitioning from one hearing to the next. Judges and attorneys can also access necessary documents and evidence digitally, reducing time spent shuffling through paperwork.
- Increased Flexibility
Remote hearings offer greater flexibility for participants. Attorneys and witnesses can join hearings from the comfort of their offices or homes, reducing the need for courtroom attire and the associated time spent commuting. This flexibility can lead to a more balanced work-life schedule for legal professionals, ultimately benefiting both the justice system and individual well-being.
- Enhanced Record-Keeping
Digital court hearings offer a clear advantage in terms of record-keeping. Everything is electronically documented, reducing the chances of important information being lost or misplaced. This not only ensures accuracy but also simplifies the process of reviewing transcripts, making it easier to prepare for appeals or other post-hearing actions.
- Safety and Public Health
The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the importance of public health and safety. Virtual court hearings significantly reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases within crowded courtrooms. They allow the justice system to continue functioning even during health crises, ensuring that cases are not postponed indefinitely.
- Reduced Environmental Impact
By reducing the need for travel and the associated carbon emissions, virtual court hearings contribute to a smaller carbon footprint. This is particularly important as we strive to combat climate change. Transitioning to more digital proceedings can align the legal system with environmental sustainability goals.
While in-person court hearings have a long and storied history, it’s essential to recognize the advantages that virtual alternatives like phone and Zoom hearings offer. Accessibility, cost savings, efficiency, flexibility, record-keeping, safety, and environmental benefits all make a compelling case for the continued use of remote court proceedings. It’s clear that the legal landscape has evolved, and as technology continues to advance, virtual court hearings are likely to play an increasingly prominent role in the pursuit of justice.
I have not tried using AI before to write an article, but, since it seems to be all the rage, I gave it a whirl. While I would not fully rely on AI writing future articles, I enjoyed this trial run. It certainly saved me time. As for having to attend hearings in person, I think it is a waste of time, unless evidence is being presented. Let technology reign! Telephone, Zoom and AI rule!