Press "Enter" to skip to content

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Courthouses, Texas Jury Trials Move to Zoom 

Group Video Conference ScreenMy, oh my, how things can change. Monday, May 18, 2020 — a point in time when COVID-19 forced the legal profession to truly cross over to the unknown.

Until recently, Mondays at the courthouse meant picking a jury. Only on this Monday, a Collin County court embarked on a jury trial using Zoom.

Boxes (like on the Brady Brunch or Hollywood Squares) filled computer screens of legal teams. A couple of months ago, I never heard of Zoom. Now, it is a verb, an adverb, and a company (Google… anyone?). 

I spent a good amount of my career roaming the halls of courthouses. It takes time to know where to get the good parking space, which elevator never to get on, and the location of the bathroom that nobody knows about. It takes skill to comfortably bum a cup of coffee from the sacred pot in the court offices.

Even though I never intended to practice law in a courtroom, doing so has become a source of pride. This twist of fate provided unexpected benefits for me at a time when civil litigation moved away from the courtroom. But the “courtroom” as I knew it has changed in response to current circumstances. 

What does the virtual jury trial mean for the trial lawyer and a litigation practice? I ponder if this system is more efficient and whether it can provide more opportunities for trial experience.

After all, while virtual hearings open up more time, perhaps it will lead to more hearings. No more traveling to the courthouse with the office in a box and go-bag of the day — hoping nothing was left at the office. No more sitting on horrible benches with aching feet while fighting dehydration.

But all that drudgery provided more time to interact with judges and court personnel, observe lawyers handling other cases. All of which helps a lawyer to hone their skills and benefit their clients. These slices of down time were not wasted hours.  

Is the trial lawyer as we know it gone like the dictaphone? Yes, and maybe it is time. But the law is dynamic and it is moving rapidly to meet current conditions. Perhaps no opportunities will reveal themselves in ways we do not anticipate. So, embrace the change and be better at it than anyone else. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Jessica Lesser is Of Counsel to Maurice Wutscher in Dallas. Jessica is a proven civil trial attorney with expertise in the regulatory framework of consumer finance, lending, and technology. A former managing attorney in the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, she has two decades of litigation and regulatory compliance experience and is board certified in consumer and commercial law. Her leadership roles in private practice, state government, and within corporations demonstrate her adaptability and ability to provide solutions in highly regulated environments. Her extensive litigation experience provides for efficient and responsive results that are customized to a client’s needs. Jessica is the former chair of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization Advisory and Exam Commission for the consumer and commercial law specialization exam and past chair of the Consumer and Commercial Law Section, State Bar of Texas. For more information, see https://mauricewutscher.com/attorneys/jessica-lesser/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.