Family Law Virtual Hearings

Hearing Procedures

This page page provides you information on the procedures to follow during the court hearing by video or telephone

PREPARATION BEFORE THE HEARING

SAFETY CONCERNS BY VIDEO AND PHONE

AT THE START OF THE HEARING

GUIDELINES FOR PARTICIPANTS DURING HEARING

COURT LINKS AND PHONE NUMBERS FOR COURT

FAMILY LAW VIRTUAL HEARINGS TECHNICAL SET-UP

     In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Superior Court will conduct virtual family law hearings. Participants can attend the hearing remotely by video conferencing using the free Microsoft Teams app or by telephone.  These are new procedures and challenging times for everyone. With practice and patience, we will all get more proficient with these new technologies and platforms. 

 

      This page page provides you information on the procedures to follow during the court hearing by video or telephone

         COURT LINKS AND PHONE NUMBERS FOR COURT HEARINGS

Family Departments Teams Links and Conference Phone Numbers

                                PREPARATION BEFORE THE HEARING

Obtain a headset, or headphones that have a microphone (such as most headphones that come with smartphones), to avoid echo and increase audio quality. Ensure you select the headphones in the settings for ‘Devices’ as the microphone and speaker. If you have the volume turned up and audio coming through the speakers of your device, it may be picked up by your microphone and create an echo. If other participants are complaining of echo and you cannot hear any echo, it is likely that you are the cause.

The participant is to ensure that there will be no interruptions or distractions for the duration of their appearance at the hearing. Ensure you are in a quiet, distraction free location with good lighting and minimal background noise.  All participants are required to ensure that no minor children are able hear or see the videoconference hearings.

Ensure devices are fully charged before the hearing and have chargers nearby. Videoconferencing can drain the battery of devices.

A participant should have a copy of all pleadings and documents necessary for the hearing.

Participants MAY NOT record the video conference. ADVISORY: This virtual hearing MAY NOT be photographed, recorded (audio or video), or re-broadcast without prior written judicial authorization consistent with California Rules of Court, rule 1.150, and San Diego Superior Court General Order of the Presiding Department, Order No. 010120-02.

          SAFETY CONCERNS IN APPEARING BY VIDEO AND PHONE

Litigants should be mindful of their personal safety when participating in virtual hearings, including by considering the following:

If joining the hearing using video, consider turning on background blur, or sitting in front of a neutral background such as a blank wall, blind or door.

If joining a Microsoft Teams hearing by telephone, participants may switch caller ID off before dialing the conference number. If caller ID is on, participants should be aware that their phone number will be displayed in the Microsoft Teams meeting to others participating using the desktop app, web browser version or smartphone app. Switching caller ID off means that only a random 9-digit number will be shown.

                               AT THE START OF THE HEARING

Log in or call in 30 minutes before the hearing.  Stay on or keep trying until the clerk checks you in. 

Participants should have their microphone muted and cameras switched off when they are not speaking or not required to be seen, as directed by the Judge.

All participants are required to identify anyone who may be observing the proceedings with them. This is essential to ensure the credibility of testimony.

If appearing by telephone, do not place the Court on hold. Speak directly into the phone or headset. Do not place the phone on speakerphone, as it will decrease audio quality.

This information is provided as guidance. The conduct of the hearing remains a matter for the presiding judicial officer. Participants should follow any direction given by the judicial officer.

At the beginning of a calendar being called, the Judges will set forth guidelines for the proceedings. Listen closely for further direction.

Hearings may be called out of numerical order so be sure to pay attention as the calendar is being called. You’ll need to answer “present” at the appropriate time.

             GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR PARTICIPANTS AT HEARING

For the purpose of this guidance, a participant includes a party, an attorney or a witness.

The behavior, manner and presentation of a participant should be the same as if they were attending the Court hearing in person. This includes addressing the Judge correctly as “Your Honor” and addressing Counsel politely and courteously.

The Court will hold all hearings to a strict time estimate. It is best not to repeat arguments in the written pleadings as the Court has read and reviewed those documents.

All participants shall place their microphones on mute unless they are speaking or wish to make an objection.

Participants are not permitted to use or access their phones during the hearing except to communicate with their attorney of record as permitted by the judge.

If participants are unable to give uninterrupted evidence, they should advise the clerk or their attorney as soon as practical.

All efforts shall be undertaken not to interrupt other speakers during the hearing, unless it is necessary to assert an objection. Please keep in mind a court reporter is transcribing the proceeding so speak clearly and slowly. Please do not interrupt when another party or the judge is speaking.

If an interpreter is necessary, all participants shall speak slowly, in short complete sentences or questions, and allow time for translation. No one shall respond to a question posed by another participant until the question has been translated.

If an objection is made all participants must stop speaking and wait for the Court’s ruling on the objection. An attorney or self-represented party can ask to be heard on the objection after it is made. The Court may also request a response to an objection.

Where an objection is made and discussions are required in the absence of the witness, the witness may be asked to mute their computer or otherwise be virtually ejected from the meeting space and invited to re-join when the objection has been dealt with.

 
 
 
 

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