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August 04, 2020 Practice Points

Jury Selection Over Zoom: A Brave New World

See how a Florida trial court conducted jury selection over Zoom in the age of the pandemic.

By Charles W. Stotter

The Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County, Florida, recently conducted a jury trial in a homeowner’s property damage insurance dispute, in which the jury selection was conducted over Zoom, while being live-streamed to YouTube. People’s Trust Insurance Company vs. Yusem Corchero, et al., No. 2019-CA-18363. Miami-Dade was one of five judicial circuits in Florida selected to test the use of remote video appearance technology as a pilot program, to assist in planning how to safely resume jury trials during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the trial itself the jury was present in the courtroom to hear counsel and witnesses. The jurors were seated in the jury box and the well of the courtroom, to allow for proper social distancing. All persons in the courtroom wore masks, face shields or both. Sidebars were held in the judge’s chambers to allow for proper social distancing. The trial proceedings were live-streamed to YouTube as well.

The jury selection and trial proceedings can be viewed on YouTube. Although there were some technical difficulties during the first 20 minutes of jury selection on Thursday, July 9, 2020, the videos show that the proceedings went smoothly thereafter. The proceedings are well worth watching as they provide an example of how court proceedings will likely be conducted in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, and possibly thereafter.

Charles W. Stotter is of counsel with Carlton Fields, P.A., in Florham Park, New Jersey.

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