Zoom Policy and Protocol

A.  Final Hearings and Trials by Zoom.  With Court approval, counsel and parties may appear and participate, and witnesses may testify, by Zoom at final hearings and trials in cases and adversary proceedings. The Court does not routinely grant such requests. The Court can accommodate both in-person testimony and appearances by some participants and Zoom testimony and appearances by others at the same final hearing or trial. In addition, the courtroom will be open to the public regardless of whether there is Zoom participation by some or all parties.

B.  Requesting a Zoom Appearance. To request Court appearances and/or testimony by Zoom, make the request at a status conference, preliminary hearing, or pretrial conference, or file a motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 43 and the applicable Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure. The Court will promptly rule on the request.

C.  Zoom Protocol. The Court uses the Zoom video conferencing platform for video hearings and trials governed by this policy. The following protocol applies to Zoom hearings and trials:

(a)  The Court will email the Zoom information, including a Zoom link to the requesting counsel and unrepresented parties before the final hearing or trial date.

(b)  Counsel may only share the Zoom link with their clients and with witnesses. Parties and witnesses may not share the Zoom link with others.

(c)  It is counsel’s and unrepresented party’s responsibility to ensure that they and their witnesses have the proper equipment to attend the hearing by Zoom. The Court is not responsible for providing technical support.

(d)  Persons appearing by Zoom must be in a quiet room during the hearing. Unless the Court orders otherwise for good cause shown, no one will be permitted to appear by video from a motor vehicle.

(e)  Persons appearing by Zoom should ensure that their audio and video connections are functioning by joining the hearing at least 15 minutes before it is scheduled to begin. The Court may begin a hearing promptly at the scheduled time notwithstanding technical problems for those appearing by Zoom.

(f)  Counsel, parties, and witnesses shall not record any court proceeding held by Zoom, including taking screen shots or other visual copies.

(g)  If a party expects to or may call one or more witnesses to testify by Zoom, then, at least two days prior to the commencement of the hearing, the party shall provide a hard copy of all exhibits to be used at the hearing to each such witness. The exhibits must be organized in such a way that they are readily accessible by the witness during the hearing.

(h)  Prior to the final hearing, counsel and unrepresented parties shall advise all witnesses they expect to call to testify at the final hearing by Zoom of the following:

Testifying by Zoom should be as close as possible to testifying in person in the courtroom. Other than exhibits for the hearing, witnesses should not have any notes or other materials with them during their testimony (unless authorized by the Court during the hearing to refresh the witness’ recollection), including cell phones, tablets, or other electronic devices. Witnesses should not have any person other than counsel present in the room when they testify. Coaching by persons off-camera is prohibited. For security reasons, witnesses are not to share the Zoom link with others.

(i)  If a party, counsel, or witness wants to appear and/or testify by Zoom and the Court’s scheduling order or notice of hearing does not so provide, then such party may file a motion to allow video appearance, identifying the persons the party wishes to appear and/or testify by Zoom and the reasons video appearance is appropriate.

(j)  Failure to comply with Zoom protocol may result in the Court barring video appearance by the noncompliant person at the scheduled hearing and in future hearings.