Many court hearings are now being held remotely because of COVID-19. That means some or all of the people participate by video or phone, including judges and attorneys. Please read the tips and frequently asked questions below to learn how to prepare for a remote hearing.
In addition to an invitation link or the meeting ID, participants will need one of the following:
- A desktop or laptop with a camera and a reliable internet connection.
- Download the WebEx app on your device. You may also join through your web browser, but the app offers the best experience.
- OR A cell phone or tablet with a camera, reliable wi-fi, and the Webex Meetings App
- The app is available to download for free through your phone’s app store.
- OR A landline or cell phone can also dial into the meeting.
- If you do not have the Webex Meetings App on your cell phone or tablet, you will be connected by audio only and therefore will not be able to see the proceedings.
- At least a day before your hearing, choose how you will join and test it out. If possible, test out a call with a friend or another hearing participant. If you’re using the computer app, test your device to make sure it's ready to use WebEx.
- Make sure you are in a quiet, private location for the hearing. Reduce background noise. If you can't be alone, tell the court officer who the others with you are.
- If you are on the phone, make sure you have reliable service. If you are joining on a laptop, make sure you have a good internet connection. Make sure your device is fully charged.
- Join your hearing 10 minutes before the hearing starts.
- If possible, use video and position your webcam at eye level.
- If possible, use an external microphone, or headphones with a built-in microphone.
- Use headphones if you have them to prevent echoes and feedback.
During the hearing…
- Keep yourself muted and only unmute when you need to speak. Mute when you are finished.
- Dial-in users press *6 on your keypad to mute and unmute yourself
- Do your best to not speak when others are speaking.
- If you run into technical issues, use the chat function to speak to the meeting host, or call the courthouse to let someone know that you are attempting to join the meeting.
- If you are on the Desktop app, use the ‘grid view’ option (found in the top right of your screen) to view everyone at once.
If You Are Facing Technology Barriers
Here are some options if you don't have access to a computer, or if you need a wifi signal.
Public computers may be available in:
- Vermont public libraries: Map | List
- Vermont Adult Learning Centers
- Vermont Career and Technical Education Centers
- Vermont Department of Labor Job Centers
Some public libraries lend tablets or laptops. Check with your local library to see if they offer this service.
Places that may have wifi include:
- Vermont public libraries: Map | List
- Public WiFi Hotspots in Vermont
- Vermont WiFi zones
- State courthouses
Frequently Asked Questions
- If the court requires me to file a motion if I object to the remote hearing, what will the court consider in reviewing my request?
- How do I join a meeting?
- What if I want to be on video, but don’t have a microphone, or poor internet makes my voice sound choppy?
- What if I can't hear other participants? / What if others can't hear me?
- How do I make sure I can connect to a Webex meeting before it starts?
- How do I mute and unmute myself if I am on the phone?
- What if my client or witness did not receive an invite or cannot find it?
- How can I adjust the view on my screen?
- What does it mean when I am on the phone and hear wait music?
- What if I see ‘You can join the meeting after the host admits you’?
- How do I use the chat function?
- How can I have a private conversation with my attorney, client, or colleague?
- How do I share files in Webex?
- Are Webex hearings recorded?
If the court requires me to file a motion if I object to the remote hearing, what will the court consider in reviewing my request?
The factors the court may consider in deciding whether to allow you to participate in person, require someone else to participate in person, or take some other action include the following:
- whether you and the other participants are able to participate remotely (including access to a device and internet for video participation, or good phone reception to participate by phone)
- the conveniences to the parties
- the importance, complexity, and nature of the trial
- whether the participant is incarcerated
- whether there is a way for the client or witness and lawyer to communicate confidentially if the proceeding is held remotely
- whether the remote proceeding would allow for full and effective examination and cross examination of witnesses, including access to documents or other physical things needed for examination or cross examination of the witness
- whether the use of remote technologies would result in “undue prejudice” (or unreasonable harm) to a party or witness
- whether all parties agree about your objection
- whether a remote hearing would detract from the dignity, solemnity, and formality of the hearing or undermine its integrity, fairness, or effectiveness
- any other factor the court finds relevant.
How do I join a meeting?
There are multiple ways to join a Webex meeting.
- Desktop App (Computer, Laptop) | Click here for detailed instructions
- This is the recommended method. You will need to download the app prior to joining the first meeting. For all subsequent meetings, the app will already be installed.
- Browser (Computer, Laptop, Chromebook) | Click here for detailed instructions
- Useful if you cannot download or install an app on your device.
- iOS or Android App (Smartphone, Tablet) | Click here for detailed instructions
- Join by using the WebEx phone app. You will need to download the app prior to joining the first meeting. For all subsequent meetings, the app will already be installed.
- Call In (Basic Cell Phone or Landline) | Click here for detailed instructions
- Join by calling the Webex phone number. Do not use speakerphone. Call-in participants will be asked to identify themselves as the court can only see the phone number that is calling.
What if I want to be on video, but don’t have a microphone, or poor internet makes my voice sound choppy?
You can join using either the Desktop app or Browser, and have Webex “Call” your phone. You will still see all the participants on your screen, and they will hear you, but the audio will go through your phone.
- In the pop-up window before you Join the meeting, click Use Computer Audio for a list of options.
- Choose the Call Me option, and type in your phone number.
- You will receive a call prompting you to press “1”, and your audio will be connected to the meeting.
What if I can't hear other participants? / What if others can't hear me?
Try the obvious steps first. Is your volume up? Are you sure you aren’t muted? If these are ok…
- Open the Audio & Video menu on the top menu bar.
- Click the “Speaker, Microphone, Camera” button.
- The pop up will provide you with an opportunity to change your speaker (where you hear the meeting), microphone (how people hear you), or the video you use.
- If this does not fix your issue, please chat the hearing host privately for help.
How do I make sure I can connect to a Webex meeting before it starts?
You can test your device to make sure it's ready for your hearing. You must have the WebEx meeting application. You will be prompted to provide your name and email address and then you click “join,” by hovering over the bottom right hand corner on the speaker icon, it will turn into ‘settings,’ where you are then able to test your speakers and microphone.
How do I mute and unmute myself if I am on the phone?
Call-in users can press *6 on their keypad to mute/unmute themselves.
What if my client or witness did not receive an invite or cannot find it?
You may forward the meeting invite or send the meeting number to anyone you need to join the hearing. Double-check with the court if you are unsure whether that person is authorized to attend.
You can also ask the host to send an invite to a specific e-mail, or call in a participant’s phone number. When the participant picks up and presses 1, they will be directly connected to the hearing.
How can I adjust the view on my screen?
You can only change the view on your screen if you have joined via computer. At the top righthand of your screen there are two small gray circle buttons, these allow you to choose between active speaker view or grid view.
- Grid View - click this to see everyone at once, this is the recommended option.
- Active Speaker - shows the speaker with additional participants displayed below.
What does it mean when I am on the phone and hear wait music?
If you hear wait music, it means you are in the waiting room or lobby of the hearing. Please be patient, the hearing host knows you are waiting, and you will be brought into the main session at the Judge’s discretion.
What if I see ‘You can join the meeting after the host admits you’?
This message means you have been temporarily placed in the lobby by the meeting host. You will be readmitted to the hearing at the Judge’s discretion.
How do I use the chat function?
If you click on the chat icon on the bottom right hand corner of your Webex screen, the chat box will show up on your right (see image below). Select the drop-down box next to “To:” and select an individual you would like to chat. Then, you can privately chat with them. You can only chat with people who have joined via computer or phone app. It is important to keep in mind that while the chat is private, it is possible for either member of the chat to save the message history.
How can I have a private conversation with my attorney, client, or colleague?
Breakout rooms allow individuals to temporarily leave the meeting to join a ‘smaller,’ more personal meeting. (At this time, breakout rooms are available for people who are participating via computer, not by phone. In the coming weeks/months phone users will also be able to use breakout rooms.)
You will receive a pop up window that notifies you when you are able to join a breakout session, which you can accept or deny. When leaving the breakout session, navigate to the red icon that looks like a door. This will allow you to return to the main meeting.
How do I share files in Webex?
There are multiple ways to share in Webex. The instructions below cover what we consider to be the most straightforward methods. These instructions are for the Webex app on a computer. All other sharing methods will have limited functionality.
Are Webex hearings recorded?
Webex is audio recorded, just like in-person hearings. If the court switches to video recording of WebEx, you will be notified.
If you have any questions not answered here, please call the court for help.