For the most part, judges in federal court, at least across the criminal courts, are really trying to prevent litigants from coming into their courtroom. They are mostly seeing video and WebEx type appearances, meaning that all parties will appear on video. Nobody is really going into the courtroom.
The one exception that I see in the criminal court at 255 East Temple Street on the third floor, which is pretty much the initial appearance or arraignment court, post-indictment arraignment.
Video Court Appearances
A lot of times they actually have the defendants there in the building, but they're doing video from the lock-up, that way they don't actually have to be brought into the courtroom.
So, I'm not seeing that, but I was able to make an appearance there, actually live in the courtroom, on one of those initial appearances. I thought that was much more effective to be there:
- review everything,
- talk to the prosecutor, and
- make my argument to get my client out of custody in front of the judge.
This was much better than trying to do it on a choppy video. It's always more effective in person, but I certainly understand why the federal courts, at least the criminal courts, don't want people coming in and out of those courts for safety purposes.
I've noticed that the federal judges have a lot more power than the state judges, because they pretty much have just kept people out of their courtroom, sentencings, even pleas, they do not want people in there and they're trying to prevent.
Live In-Person Court Appearances are Limited
We'll see how long that lasts. I'm hoping that the whole video process becomes something that sticks with us, at least for minor appearances. That way, you don't have to keep going to federal court.
A lot of times, especially on the initial appearances, they'll make you sit there forever with a bunch of people in the court. The video has been a little bit more effective.
The bottom line is this. The Coronavirus has definitely affected the federal criminal courts.
It's very difficult to actually get in the court live and in person, so you really want an attorney who knows their way around the system and who can get you or a loved one the best result in these difficult times.
I've been doing this for 27 years with a lot of success.
Pick up the phone if you're looking for a federal criminal defense attorney who can handle business during the Coronavirus.
Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.