Posted: May 13, 2020

Video Conferencing Guidelines During COVID-19 Pandemic

Preparing properly as a case participant for video conferencing will ensure all involved will have a good experience and avoid unnecessary delay.  It is important that you pay close attention to this guidance and it is strongly recommended that you familiarize yourself with this software before participating in a court hearing.

Important Reminder: Persons participating in video proceedings are reminded of the general prohibition against photographing, recording, and rebroadcasting of court proceedings. Any recording of a court proceeding held by video or teleconference, including “screen-shots” or other visual or audio copying of a hearing, is absolutely prohibited. Violation of these prohibitions may result in sanctions, restricted entry to future hearings, denial of entry to future hearings, or any other sanctions deemed necessary by the court. 

Before Every Video Conferencing Court Session Using Zoom

  1. Connect your device to power.
  2. Make sure your internet connection is good:
    https://www.speedtest.net/
  3. Test your video.
  4. Test your audio.
  5. Turn off all audio disruptions (phones, messaging alerts, email alerts, etc.)
  6. Run a quick test to connect with another Zoom user, or use the Zoom test:
    https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115002262083-Joining-a-test-meeting

Zoom Account and Software

  1. Participants: You can attend a Zoom hearing on your iPhone/Android with the Zoom App or you can attend from a computer via a browser (Chrome is highly recommended) at https://www.zoomgov.com/.
  2. It is not necessary to register with Zoom in order to participate in court hearings.  Rather, the Court will send to you an email invitation containing the meeting ID and password when you are scheduled to attend.  This information will be necessary when attending via a mobile device. Please note that meeting information should be considered sensitive and only be used by the parties involved in the hearing.  If using your computer (i.e.: desktop or laptop) you can use the meeting link provided in the invitation email.
  3. Always keep your App or browsers up to date for security purposes. 
  4. The Court strongly recommends the use of earphones with a microphone for participants to allow the audio quality of your participation to be sufficiently captured for the court record.
  5. Attendees: Zoom video viewing for non-case participants (such as the media or the public) is not available at this time.  Attendees interested in listening to a hearing via telephone should refer to the instructions found on the court’s website for telephonic hearings.

Recommendations

  1. Avoid using an open microphone and speakers (such as are built-into laptops, or a webcam mic). Using a good quality headset (headphones with mic) will often help ensure you can be heard and can hear others with maximum quality.
  2. Mute your phone and mute all sounds from all other applications (email notifications, chat messaging, etc.).
  3. Avoid using a mobile device if possible. Although tablets (iPads) and smartphones can be used, they are very limited, and the performance is inferior.
  4. Avoid using battery power only (laptops, etc.). Plug into a good power source while in a Zoom meeting.
  5. Avoid noisy and echoing locations. Use of a headset will improve audio quality when this is unavoidable.
  6. Avoid distracting real or virtual backgrounds. Suitable example: ZoomGrey01.jpg
  7. Avoid poor camera positioning (if possible). Try to frame yourself so you take up most the screen, and at eye level.
  8. Avoid using Wi-Fi if possible. Connection via a hard-wire Ethernet cable will always be faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi. If you must use Wi-Fi, make sure you’re in close range.
  9. Avoid running any unnecessary applications besides Zoom, to conserve your computer’s processing power and networking.
  10. For home networks, if possible, avoid sharing your internet service with others during the session.

Settings

Zoom has a lot of settings, and as Zoom updates their system they may change.  Below are a few settings recommended by the Court to improve your video conference.

  • General: Ask me to confirm when I leave a meeting: ON (Helps prevent unintended departures)
  • Video: Enable HD: OFF (Helps prevent poor video performance, and usually looks just as good as HD)
  • Video: Always display participant names on their video: ON
  • Video: Always show video preview dialog when joining a video meeting: ON (Final check for you to see how you will appear, before your video displays to others.)

Learning

The court will only be using the audio and video functionality of Zoom. Other functions like text chat, screen sharing, etc., may not be used, and will likely be disabled for your session, so you only need to learn the basics of using Zoom for audio and video. Learn how to select the correct source for both, and how to mute/unmute your audio, and Start/Stop your video: