Law360 Pulse spoke with some attorneys about the prospect of remote criminal jury trials and the benefits and drawbacks of participating.
MIAMI (February 24, 2021) -- "The balance will be how efficient or expeditious do I want my trial to be against how or whether I want to be in living color in person with my jury and my accusers," Ratzan said.
"A trial in person with masks on has benefits and drawbacks. The drawbacks are the defendant or his or her lawyer would want to perhaps to see every crease and line on the face of the jury and the witness. So the drawback is you can't do that with a mask on. The benefit is you're in person, you see body language, you're not dependent on somebody's internet connection and so on."
"We're used to doing it a given way," Ratzan said. "So to change that creates uncertainty, uncertainty can seem risky and the last thing people want when it's their day in court is additional risk, because there's enough risk built into the process."
However, Ratzan, who is also the chair of the American Board of Trial Advocates Miami Dade Covid-19 Jury Trial Task Force, noted that in doing internal mock trials, the outcome remains consistent.
"So we're assembling anywhere from six to 12 potential jurors on a Zoom call, on a computer screen, presenting a case to them, and nothing gets in their way, they figure out the case, they make consistent decisions," Ratzan said. "So the technology and the methodology of doing these kinds of things on Zoom in my opinion doesn't get in the way.
But what sometimes happens is the internet connection is bad, a person gets distracted, there are certain things that happen on the remote method that you have to account for."