By Jaime Culotta
Preparing for your upcoming hearing date can be stressful to say the least. The importance of making a good impression comes second only to preparation. This article will discuss how to prepare for a Zoom Hearing so that you are confident and ready to make the best impression possible.
How to Prepare Documentation for the Hearing
If you intend to present documentation to the Court at the hearing in support of your case, you will need to submit that documentation to the Court and the Opposing Party prior to the hearing – usually before 2:00 p.m. on the business day before the hearing. The requirements for exchanging documentation vary between Courts and can be found on each Court’s website. If you have hired an attorney you will need to provide them with any documentation you wish to use in Court at least 1-week prior to the hearing, although the sooner you provide that documentation the better. This will allow time for your attorney to prepare your testimony and ensure that the documents are labeled, filed, and exchanged in accordance with the Court’s policies and procedures.
How to Dress
When attending a hearing, even though you are not physically present, courtroom decorum is observed. It is important that you pay special attention to your appearance. While it sounds vain, putting extra effort into your appearance is the first step in making a good first impression.
For men, a suit with a natural colored dress shirt, tie and dress shoes are preferred. If you do not own a suit, we would suggest a pair of slacks, a button-down shirt and a sport’s coat. If you have a beard – trim it, if you have long hair – pull it back.
For women, a pant or skirt suit with a modest blouse and low heels are preferred. We recommend that you do not wear large or excessive jewelry. There are a variety of hairstyles women can wear in Court but we do recommend a style that keeps your hair out of your face. As far as makeup goes – keep it simple and light.
Just a reminder that Downtown Houston has scarce parking and more often than not clients are required to park a few blocks away from the Court house. Ladies, if you are wearing heels to Court – bring a pair of flats for the walk. Your feet with thank you later.
How to Prepare for the Zoom Hearing
Once you received notice from your attorney of an upcoming Zoom hearing you will need to visit Zoom.com to create an account. This can be done via the smartphone app or online.
After you have created an account, you should reach out to your attorney and schedule a time for a 5-10min Zoom conference with the attorney’s paralegal to test your Zoom capabilities and ensure that you are technologically prepared for the upcoming hearing.
Prior to your hearing it is important that you meet with your attorney to discuss your testimony. We recommend this meeting taking place via Zoom, so that you can gain more experience with the Zoom platform prior to the hearing.
How to behave in the Hearing
Cell Phones – If you are not using your phone to attend the Zoom Hearing, make sure it is silenced and do not bring it out until the end of the hearing.
Muting / Unmuting – While you are in the Zoom Hearing, unless you are testifying, remain muted. The Judge will generally control the mute.
Testimony – The Petitioner in the case has the privilege of presenting their case first. The order of testimony is as follows:
i. Petitioner questioned by Petitioner’s Attorney
ii. Petitioner questioned by Respondent’s Attorney
iii. Petitioner’s Witness questioned by Petitioner’s Attorney
iv. Petitioner’s Witness questioned by Respondent’s Attorney
v. Respondent questioned by Respondent’s Attorney
vi. Respondent questioned by Petitioner’s Attorney
vii. Respondent’s Witness questioned by Respondent’s Attorney
viii. Respondent’s Witness questioned by Petitioner’s Attorney
Each individual who is called to testify will be put under oath (i.e. they testify under penalty of perjury). The most important thing to know is to be honest. If Larry asks you a question and the other attorney asks you a question, your answer should be the same. There is the tendency to not want to give the otherwise all of the truth. Don’t give into that impulse. Give the truth, the who truth, and nothing but the truth.
If either attorney objects to your testimony (i.e. they say “Objection!”) you should stop talking immediately while until the Court makes a ruling. If the objection is overruled, the attorney questioning you will ask you to respond. If the objection is sustained the attorney will ask you another question.
When the other party is testifying, it is likely that they will say something you believe to be dishonest or that you do not agree with. It is important that you do not respond physically to their testimony. Do not make a face or shake your head. You want to remain calm, collected, and professional at all times in front of the Judge. Instead, use the chat feature in Zoom to send Larry or his paralegal a message. It is important that before sending the message, you ensure that the chat is labeled as a “private chat” between you and Larry or his paralegal.
We hope this article helps you prepare for your upcoming zoom hearing. If you currently have a Zoom Court Date and are not represented by an Attorney, contact our office to schedule a FREE 1-hour consultation to discuss your options.