The Stanford Criminal Justice Center published a report examining the staying power of the “virtual” or “remote” criminal court: the use of teleconferencing and videoconferencing in lieu of in-person hearings in criminal cases that were largely eliminated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Research includes both qualitative interviews with close to 60 judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and court administrators in three jurisdictions (Miami-Dade County, Milwaukee County, and the Northeast Judicial District of North Dakota) and a quantitative analysis of a national survey completed by 240 defense attorneys who practice in the state court system. Together, the quantitative and qualitative findings provide one of the most thorough portraits of virtual criminal proceedings to date and show that aspects of virtual court compromised access to justice.
One of the main takeaways from the report pertained to attorney-client communication being impaired by virtual technology. A majority of interviewees also expressed concerns about access to phones, internet connections, computers, private spaces, camera and smartphone applications. Another finding of the study was that most respondents believe that contested hearings, especially trials, should not be conducted virtually.
Interviewees expressed mixed feelings about the efficiency gains of virtual proceedings, noting multitasking opportunities but mourning the loss of productive informal conversations in courthouse hallways. However, some felt that minor hearings like status conferences and calendaring should remain virtual post-pandemic given these efficiencies accrued by having these proceedings conducted remotely. A handful of interviewees explicitly noted that efficiencies should not be the focus, at least not at the expense of the administration of justice.
Most of the interviewees felt that virtual technology results in an intangible loss, fewer nonverbal cues, a reduced ability to communicate, or a dampening of emotional connections. As a consequence, several interviewees expressed concerns about a lack of empathy for the defendant, which they worried would translate into harsher sentences and lower trust in the judiciary. Interviewees from the three jurisdictions also conjectured that the use of virtual technology could trigger constitutional concerns – specifically issues related to the Confrontation Clause (the right to confront a witness) – that the courts will eventually need to decide.
A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.