JOPLIN, Mo. — With many court houses being closed because of the pandemic and social distancing when they do reopen, more and more legal events are being held virtually.
And at least one area attorney thinks that practice may be here to stay.
Some types of civil and criminal trials take days, even weeks to complete.
And while it may be difficult to conduct them virtually, Joplin area Attorney Sarah Luce Reeder says holding some of the events leading up to a trial can be done without clients, lawyers and judges from leaving their respective offices.
Sarah Luce Reeder, Attorney, said, “So I think doing pretrial motions by video are kind of nice because then you can have your client testify instead of just hearing a voice and actually see a person and they see the persons mannerisms and see the persons gestures and sincerity, I think the Zoom is great for that.”
She says holding portions of events such as divorces, adoptions a motions and even protective orders by Zoom or higher security legal platforms like Scopia might be here to stay.
And in the long run, Reeder says it will save clients money.
Reeder says video conferencing saved her a trip to the Newton County Courthouse.
“From my office to Neosho, you have to charge the client for that time, so the client didn’t get charged for that time, you know I’m already here in my office, so the only time I billed obviously just the time for the hearing, not the drive time, so it is very convenient for my and obviously the client expenses.”
But she says virtual court does have its drawbacks.
She says Attorneys for both sides often must pre-file much of the information they plan to introduce including exhibits, taking away some of the element of surprise.
“You filed something that maybe you were going to perhaps impeach somebody with or question them about it and they already see it and know it, and sometimes you catch people not telling the truth and sometimes you can impeach people with that, well that takes the element of aha moment or the impeachment.”