On Jan. 26, 2020, I conducted the conclusion of a bench trial in an entirely virtual environment. The trial, a contractual dispute, began as a normal in-person proceeding prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the scope of the pandemic became evident, the parties agreed to conclude the trial over video conference. There was much to be learned from the experience with regard to the differences between in-person and virtual trials, be they civil or criminal, and how to best conduct them. This article shares some of these lessons I’ve learned through this virtual trial.

Failing To Prepare Is Preparing To Fail

As part of trial preparation, it pays dividends to go to the courtroom prior to the trial to get a sense of the environment and courtroom procedures. It is very helpful to know small details such as the location of the lectern, where displays will be located in relation to the judge or jury, and how the courtroom generally operates. This intelligence helps to avoid any unwelcome surprises on the day of trial.

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