Is virtual court here to stay?

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 6:37 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Throughout this pandemic it’s safe to say a lot of us got pretty comfortable with the virtual side of things. But virtual calls are making big waves in our justice system, too and online court is here to stay a while.

Faulty mics and weird camera angles aside lawyers say there’s huge benefits to having court virtually. And the ability to have hearings online has been extended in Georgia until next year. It’s something they say is helping the case backlog and saving all of us money.

The address for court hearings starts with www.

“We can’t ignore the advances in technology,” said Vic Hawk, an attorney with Hawk Law Group.

And lawyers say it ends with saving a lot of dollar signs.

“Every time we have parties to civil litigation or criminal litigation, there has to be support staff there. They have to go from one location to another location to meet in the courtroom,” said Hawk. “That costs a lot of money over time.”

It might not offer the best sound quality or flattering angles, but attorneys tell us it’s been a huge step to clearing up case backlogs.

“I think it’s already helping. It’s amazing how we’re able to do preliminary hearings, preliminary resolutions of matters like bond, consent, judgements,” said Hawk.

Though they admit there is a downside, a human element missing.

“Probably the most significant thing for a criminal defendant is when they’re having a trial, they would really like to see their family and the support from their friends in the courtroom with them,” said Hawk.

But even without the support in person, virtual hearings have their benefits in the long run.

“Moving a case through the system, having hearing virtually, communicating virtually, is nothing but a plus plus,” said Hawk.

Vic Hawk tells us parties cans still request in-person hearings and says they’re typically used when it could benefit a case to show more human elements of a defendant, victim, or witness.

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