Video Conferencing Apps in US Courts

Goals

To get a list of 3 cities that have moved housing courts to online video conferencing (with basic resources / evidence) and information on joining atleast three housing court hearings remotely.

Early Findings

Our background research on the topic unveiled the following information:

Cleveland

  • Magistrates in The Cleveland Housing Court are using Zoom, a video conferencing app, for most of the court hearings; however, the court is concerned about the fact that these video conference hearings can only be attended by the parties and are not accessible to the general public.
  • "First-term Housing Court Judge, W. Moná Scott," clarified that the court staff is working on finding solutions to the issue, and live streaming is one of the possible solutions that they have thought of.

Detroit

  • The Housing Court of Detroit is also conducting pre-trial hearings on zoom for the tenants and landlords. These hearings are also not accessible to the general public.

Austin

  • Texas Supreme Court is also planning to use Zoom for eviction hearings and pre trial hearings. However, the app will not be used for jury trials.
  • Courts in New York are also planning for virtual hearings for housing cases.

Public Access to Hearings

  • "In New York City, anyone wanting to see a hearing has to go to the courthouse and watch on a screen there, possibly risking contagion."
  • "In Los Angeles and Miami, officials have not given court watchers a way to join their courts’ video conferences."
  • "In New Orleans, access has depended on individual judges, with some being more reliable than others."

Summary of Findings

  • Our research was able to provide the names of three cities that are conducting housing court hearings online on Zoom. However, we were unable to provide information on joining housing court hearings remotely because it requires permissions from individual judges. The Zoom link and meeting ID/password for these hearings will only be given to people who have obtained permission from the judge.

Proposed next steps:

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