INSIGHT: Virtual Criminal Jury Trials Pose Practical Challenges

by Henry E. Hockeimer Jr., Terence M. Grugan, and Izabella Babchinetskaya
June 22, 2020
The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant’s right to confront his or her accuser, and courts have consistently held that a virtual confrontation isn’t sufficient; however it’s unclear if that view will change in light of the current pandemic. In the first part of a two-part series, Ballard Spahr attorneys examine practical challenges accompanying virtual trials.

“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” O.J. Simpson’s defense attorney argued as he looked into the eyes of the 12 jurors tasked with deciding his client’s fate.

Although now an infamous phrase, at the time, it mattered only to these jurors. They sat only a few feet away, and watched as Simpson struggled to put on a glove that was much too small. Now imagine that these jurors were not watching this drama in person, but rather over Zoom. Would the performance have been nearly as effective?

From jury selection through closing arguments, every second in front of a jury counts. Part 1 of this two-part series examines the practical challenges accompanying virtual trials, while Part 2 will address concerns regarding a defendant’s rights.

Reprinted with permission from Bloomberg Law, June/2020

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Copyright © 2020 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
(No claim to original U.S. government material.)

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