Gavel and laptop
Two platforms dominated in our poll of virtual court operations

By Anna-Leigh Firth

Zoom? CourtCall? GoToMeeting? WebEx?

Our May Question of the Month asked judges which online platform they’ve been using most often to conduct court operations remotely during the coronavirus crisis.

Among the 702 judges who responded, the clear winners were Zoom with 48 percent and WebEx with 25 percent.

Baldwin County (AL) Judge Michelle Thomason said that by incorporating Zoom into her court’s existing software, they were able to set cases for hearing and view and print virtual dockets.

“It has worked very well, and we will likely utilize this platform for motion dockets and other hearings long after the social distancing requirements have been lifted,” she wrote.

Bexar County (TX) Judge Ernie L. Glenn said participants in his felony drug treatment court actually seemed more relaxed on Zoom than during in-person court appearances.

Other aspects of Zoom lauded by judges included:

  • The “waiting room” feature that limits admission to meetings
  • Recordability, which creates copies of hearings for court files
  • Break-out rooms for confidential counsel
  • Greater access to the justice system overall

Some judges mentioned security concerns related to “Zoom bombing” (nuisance interference) or video conference hijacking. But others applauded the service’s password-protection option and live security and sharing features.

Here’s how the other platforms finished in the survey: Other (10.54%), Skype (9.69%),  Microsoft Teams (9.12%), GoToMeeting (6.13%), Google Hangouts (3.85%), BlueJeans (3.56%), CourtCall (3.13%) and Adobe Connect (0.14%).

The “Other” platforms mentioned were Star Leaf, Vidyo, Whereby, Uberconference, Free Conference Call, Jabber, Call Bridge, Polycom, Virtual Meeting Room, Amazon Chime, Lifesize, Avaya and Scopia.

Twelve judges reported that they weren’t using any platform.

* Each month the College emails an informal, non-scientific one-question survey to its more than 12,000 judicial alumni in the United States and abroad. The results, summarized in the NJC’s Judicial Edge Today, are not intended to be characterized as conclusive research findings.

NJC News