Nobody is going to look back wistfully on the 2020 and the disruption the pandemic caused. Like the rest of our economy, the justice system had to figure out how to carry on when infection rates kept us from being in the same room together.
Enter the Zoom trial. Although they have their limitations, video-conferenced trials and hearings have allowed the system to carry on, even if in a limited capacity. And a recent interview with a juror published in Law360 shows they even have advantages.
"I was a juror on a civil case for 10 weeks in 2016. The Valve juror experience was in almost all respects better. I could more easily see the documents, exhibits and witnesses' faces on Zoom than in a courtroom. I could hear everything better as well. Also, I didn't lose an hour each way in traffic every day."
Read more at: Clear Exhibits, Abrupt Goodbyes: Life as a Zoom Juror.
So as we start to see some of the first green shoots suggesting a return to normalcy someday (Cook County Planning to Resume Jury Trials), we should keep in mind some of what we learned this past, confusing year. While I wouldn't want to try a case or argue a motion by Zoom if public health restrictions don't demand it, I can still look to use technology or tailor a presentation to make exhibits or witnesses easier for the judge or jury to see and understand. Sometimes its good to be forced to look at things a new way.
As courts tiptoe into the new realm of the Zoom jury trial, the legal world has heard wisdom aplenty from lawyers and judges lucky enough to have been among the first participants. But there's one critical group from which little has been heard: the Zoom juror.