The use of technology in the courtroom is important to keep cases moving forward in an efficient manner. A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice shows that “virtual trials” can work.
The case arose in the criminal context. The trial took place by Zoom over four days, with two witnesses testifying and one day of argument.
Justice Lemon indicated that there were no significant technological issues. Documents were dealt with seamlessly and did not interfere with the flow of evidence. While there were delays, they were the same as any other trial in normal circumstances.
Justice Lemon stated: “The learning curve has been steep for all of us; however, in my view, this case showed that a perfectly appropriate trial can be held by Zoom. But it requires the hard work and assistance of counsel, the parties, and the court staff to make it work. Without that, the process cannot be successful. The trial judge is the least inconvenienced by this new reality”.
His Honour stated that he had no concerns with being able to assess credibility differently than any other trial.