Videoconferencing in support of Remote Access to Courts – A Webinar Roundtable Series
This webinar series is part of the CEELI Institute’s program with the Central and Eastern European Judicial Exchange Network. The Network, which has been going since 2012, is comprised of some of the best and brightest young judges, from eighteen countries, who gather regularly to share best practices on issues of judicial independence, integrity, accountability, and court management. As international in-person meetings are likely to be limited for some time to come, the webinar series ensures that the network can continue to meet its mandate to improve judicial integrity and court efficiency in Central and Eastern Europe, despite the global lockdowns resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
The topic – Videoconferencing in support of Remote Access to Courts – is particularly relevant to the judiciary in the current climate, but also has on-going relevance beyond the current extraordinary circumstances. This series, which was recorded bi-weekly between April 7 and May 19, 2020, and is available on-demand to all Network members through the CEELI Online platform, provides participants with a greater understanding of the potential for, and limitations of, using videoconferencing and other technologies in the courts.
In this first session, one of the Network members shares his experience of adapting to the state of emergency and judging during a stay-home order.
This session begins with an exploration of the potential effects of videoconferencing on access to justice and upholding rights to public hearings. It emphasizes hearing rights and transparency amongst other issues and reviews potential issues for various vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities and people who require an interpreter. Participants are also introduced to fair trial safeguards in remote criminal procedures and provided with an overview of the recent publication by Fair Trials of a guide for remote justice procedures, as well as an update on the Ukrainian experience of remote hearings.
This week’s webinar begins with a summary of emergency measures introduced by various states regarding the functioning of the courts and judicial proceedings during the Covid-19 crisis, as well as an overview of the approach to videoconference hearings and some of the challenges and pitfalls presented. Participants are then introduced to relevant European case law presented by the International Commission of Jurists. Finally, participants hear about the firsthand experience of a judge conducting videoconference hearings; the practical technological preparation required; and how they aim to safeguard the rights of the parties in such hearings.
This session begins with a focus on some of the technical problems, program options and challenges with virtual hearings faced in the U.S. Courts, followed by the judicial experience in using video conferencing technology at the trial court level. Finally, the session is concluded by an overview of the legal basis for videoconferencing in courts in England and Wales, human rights, and some practical issues with videoconferencing.