Kentucky Courts to resume virtually using Zoom on June 1
After two and a half months, courts in Kentucky will be able to resume on June 1.
During this time, court cases have been suspended for those not in jail or prison.
"That’s tens of thousands of cases," said Kentucky Public Advocate Damon Preston.
For those in jail, court has continued virtually.
"Skype or Zoom or some video platform with them on that platform from a jail," said Preston.
On June 1, court hearings will not resume in person, however, they will be held virtually over Zoom.
This comes with a challenge as not everyone has access to the internet for a video call, so they are offering an option to all in by phone through a Zoom conference number.
“It’s not quite as good because I can’t see them and they can’t see me but they can talk to me and talk to anyone else that’s joining the virtual court hearing at the same time," said Perry County District Judge, Cody Goehring.
Preston says the Department of Public Advocacy is helping their clients find ways to participate virtually.
“We hope to compile some resources whether it be parking lots that have free WiFi routers," said Preston
Goehring also says virtual court hearings take much more time than in-person.
“It’s hard enough having 80 or 90 people in a courtroom that you’re trying to get done with, get their cases done in just a few hours. It’s much harder through video conferencing," Goehring said.
Goehring told WYMT Zoom does work well, as he has the same control as he does in the courtroom.
“If someone was disorderly in a courtroom they can kick them out of the courtroom. Zoom works the same way. You can place somebody in a waiting room or remove them from the meeting if either the hearing is confidential or if they are not supposed to be there," Goehring said.
If a judge says a case requires an in-person hearing, strict health guidelines must be followed with only people essential to the case in attendance. This also applies for those who do not have the capability to appear virtually. They must enter the courthouse alone and must be wearing a mask.
People will also not be allowed to bring in purses or other bags.
"That’s to protect security so they don’t have to do in-person security checks on every individual that walks through," Goehring said.
Preston says some courts are going against orders and scheduling in-person hearings.
“We are concerned about dockets piling up with tens, dozens some even hundreds of people that may be showing up to the courthouse on a given day and just cycling thorough,” said Preston.
Cases that require a jury will not begin until August 1. Preston says he hopes to never see a virtual jury trial as evidence cannot be examined the same way.