Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sixth Circuit working on video conference arguments

I was up at the Sixth Circuit for argument on January 28. I noticed a big video screen to the right of the bench, another smaller one below the bench, and a camera high above the bench pointed at the lectern. I asked the court staff about them. She pointed out two big screens over the doors (one for each side of argument) and a camera above those. The Sixth Circuit is working towards being able to host oral argument via video conference. Any combination of judges and attorneys could, in theory, appear via a video link. It is hoped this would be a better option than telephone conference - people would be able to see each other. They've tried a few arguments this way, to mixed success.

One judge at my argument appeared telephonically. Weather in Michigan was terrible, and temperatures in Cincinnati were below zero. I don't blame him. I wondered if I would rather be able to see his face - would he or I be more engaged? On the other hand, I like the idea of a judge being able to participate in argument from the comfort of their own home (in their jammies or favorite warm outfit) when inclement weather strikes.

What do y'all think?