In the current crisis, New Jersey courts have taken to Zoom (perhaps despite some security concerns) to manage their most pressing cases. Not all courts are doing this, some are still operating by telephone only, but there are no in person cases currently being heard in New Jersey.
For criminal, some chancery and civil cases, this could mean a public viewing of your hearing because the courts are live-streaming them. This is not the case for family court and some of the probate courts. If you want to get a rough idea of how Zoom court works, even though it may be very different procedurally than the kind of case you have, you can check out the public court channels here.
In some courts, you will be on with just the parties of the case and the judge, often his or her secretary and/or law clerk. However, many courts are doing domestic violence and motion court in a group with all litigants and attorneys for that day in the “room” able to hear and see what is happening. A few bits of courtesy:
1. Mute yourself when you are not participating. Background noise and feedback makes it difficult for everyone.
2. Be dressed in an appropriate fashion. You don’t need to be in a suit, even in person litigants rarely are. But perhaps this is not the time for an offensive t-shirt or your pajamas. This may not be the time to “dress” your screen with an interesting virtual background either. Keep it simple.
3. If you run into technical difficulties, call your lawyer or the court and tell them and they can help walk you through the process of reconnecting or resolving the problem. Everyone is attempting to be understanding about these things given the circumstances, so don’t panic.
4. Try not to talk over anyone. It is more difficult to catch all the cues of people being finished speaking in a video call, and even more so in telephone proceedings, but do your best.
5. Be patient. This is a more challenging process for everyone involved, and we are all adjusting.
6. If you’re nervous, reach out to your attorney before hand. You may want to do a practice Zoom with them or (much less expensive) with a friend, if it’s unfamiliar technology.
7. Finally, know that whatever the final order is in your matter…you may or may not get it for a week or so. Some courts are more on top of the paperwork than others.
The courts ARE operating though, and if you have a family or estate matter you need placed before a court, please call 856-227-7888 for a free initial consult.