The court system serves to uphold justice, but fulfilling this purpose with finite resources can often be quite challenging. Tight budgets and limited time place serious constraints on what can be achieved. However, new technologies can help alleviate some of those constraints and enable the courts to do more with less. Videoconferencing is not exactly a new technology — various courts have been using videoconferencing in preliminary proceedings since the 1990s — but it is only recently being used in a more full and productive capacity. In this full capacity, videoconferencing can greatly reduce court costs and improve the overall efficiency of legal proceedings. As with any new technology, though, videoconferencing does require some adjustment. This blog post examines the relative merits and challenges of videoconferencing and its role in federal courts.


Videoconferencing can be used in the courtroom in several ways. Remote arraignments can be performed in a more convenient, timely manner; witnesses and experts who might not otherwise have been available can be accessed more readily; and remote language interpretation allows courtrooms to enlist highly skilled interpreters at a lower cost.

In these and other situations, the benefits of videoconferencing are clear:

  • The technology allows for easier scheduling and expedited timelines when the availability of the parties involved is limited.
  • Videoconferencing eliminates travel costs for witnesses who are distantly located or who would have difficulty appearing in court.
  • Videoconferencing allows the court to utilize the services of a wider variety of experts.
  • This technology allows for remote, but still “live” communication.


Like any technology, videoconferencing is not totally perfect. Technological issues can and will arise, and courtrooms must be prepared for those potential glitches. For example, the defendants, witnesses and experts included in the videoconference must be connected on the same network or with the same hardware or software as the courtroom. Additionally, any small number of technological hiccups could occur, such as lost audio, lagging feeds or inconsistent signals. Because of this, it is important to prepare those involved and perform test calls before the actual legal proceedings. These small issues are easily overcome with improving technology and procedural adaptations to these time and cost-saving methods.

Use in Federal Courts

Videoconferencing can be used in federal courts; however, there are stipulations for that use:

  • Before scheduling a videoconference, permission from the judge or special master is required.
  • The videoconference must be scheduled with at least one month of advance notice for testing purposes.
  • Technical staff must be available to assist with the videoconference.
  • The federal courts use enterprise-level systems such as Polycom, Cisco and Lifesize. Consumer-level videoconferencing such as Skype or FaceTime are not permissible.
  • Once the videoconference has been scheduled, there must a technological assessment of the remote site.
  • A test must be performed prior to the actual videoconference.
  • The videoconference will usually be connected 15 minutes prior to the scheduled proceeding in order to work out any unexpected technical issues.

With these procedures in place, videoconferencing in federal courts can occur smoothly, efficiently and regularly.

Use in the Legal Field Generally

Videoconferencing can save money, time and travel at all stages of legal proceedings, not just in the courtroom. Law firms can conduct meetings with deponents, clients and witnesses in an extremely convenient and cost-effective way. To that end, Connor Reporting has recently updated our private teleconferencing suites with state-of-the art technology. Each suite is equipped with flat-screen HD TVs and the latest videoconferencing systems. Connor Reporting can facilitate high-quality videoconferencing with remote locations across the globe.

This technology is incredibly useful both in terms of convenience and cost. Videoconferencing maximizes resources and expands the boundaries of what can be achieved in the legal field. Connor Reporting is pleased to offer and facilitate this valuable tool for clients at any point during legal proceedings.

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