Remote Appearance Information
The Court uses Zoom™ for remote appearances in all case types when a remote appearance is allowable. The rules for appearing remotely in a Civil case are much different than the rules for appearing remotely in a Criminal case.
- Civil Cases - You must notify the court and all other parties that you intend to appear remotely using form RA-010. If you intend to appear remotely, you must also submit and serve your evidence prior to the scheduled date. It is important that you review the link to the Local Rules below, Rule 1.4 governs remote appearances, and that you read the Guidelines on Evidence Submission on the Local Rules page.
- Criminal Cases – Defendants in misdemeanor cases may appear remotely at any hearing except trials. Defendants in felony cases generally need to appear in person but may appear remotely for some hearings if they have informed the court in advance that they intend to waive their right to be physically present. If you are represented by an attorney, you should talk to them about when a remote appearance is allowable. The conditions under which individuals may appear remotely are contained in Penal Code Section 977.
- Traffic/Infraction Cases – At the time, remote appearances are only allowed for arraignment hearings. All trials are conducted in person at either the Santa Cruz or Watsonville Courthouses.
The public, press, and or other non-participating observers should not use Zoom for accessing public court proceedings. If you would like to observe court proceedings, you may observe in person.
Remote appearance information should be reviewed regularly due to location and information changes that may occur. Use this information to determine department location when a judge is absent.
Any recording of a court proceeding held by video or teleconference, including “screen-shots” or other audio or visual copying of a hearing, is absolutely prohibited consistent with the California Rules of Court, rule 1.150. Also, the court will not provide technical support for Zoom participants. Please contact the Zoom Help Center, your local IT support, or other online guidance.
Case Participants appearing through zoom
Attorneys, witnesses, case parties, etc., (“participants”) appearing through Zoom in a Court proceeding must follow the guidance below, as adequate preparation and testing of the system are required to ensure a good experience for everyone involved.
For tips on how to prepare for your remote Zoom appearance and how to log on, please see our two handouts.
- How to prepare for your zoom appearance
- Como prepararse para su apariencia en corte por medio de zoom remoto
- Using Zoom for your remote appearance
- Usar Zoom para su apariencia remota
Local Rules of Court For Remote Appearances and Guidelines for Evidence Submission
- Local Rules of Court
- FAQs on California Rule of Court 3.672 Remote Appearances
- Guidelines for Evidence Submission for Non-Criminal Trials and Evidentiary Hearings
- Presentacion de Evidencias para Juicios y Audiencias Probatorias en Casos No Criminales
- Video Evidence Presentation in the Courtroom (in-person and remote)
Zoom Account and Software
Participants should set up a Zoom account and download the software
- If you do not already have a Zoom account, set one up at https://zoom.us. A paid Zoom account is not necessary for any interaction with the court.
- Log into https://zoom.us/profile and set your name, phone and email. Including a photo will help identify you when connecting.
- Install the latest Zoom Client for Meetings at https://zoom.us/download. Although Zoom can be used in a browser only, it is not ideal for participating with the court. The full Zoom client is required for best functionality and best experience with the system.
- Always keep your software up to date! The Zoom Client automatically updates itself upon launching the software, but you can also update it manually.
Before Every Court Session Using Zoom
All equipment and the Zoom application should be tested and working before court begins
- Connect your device to power.
- Make sure your internet connection is good.
- Test your video.
- Test your audio.
- Turn off all audio disruptions (phones, messaging alerts, email alerts, etc.)
- Run a quick test to connect with another Zoom user, or use the Zoom test.
Zoom has a lot of settings, and as the Zoom system evolves, certain aspects or features may change. Below are a few settings recommended by the court to improve your video conference.
- General: Ask me to confirm when I leave a meeting: ON (Helps prevent unintended departures)
- Video: Enable HD: OFF (Helps prevent poor video performance, and usually looks just as good as HD)
- Video: Always display participant names on their video: ON
- Video: Always show video preview dialog when joining a video meeting: ON (Final check before your video displays to others)
- Mute your phone, and mute all sounds from all other applications (notifications, chat messaging, etc.).
- Avoid using a mobile device if possible. Although tablets (iPads) and smartphones can be used, they are very limited, and the performance is inferior.
- Avoid using battery power only (laptops, etc.). Plug into a good power source while in a Zoom meeting.
- Avoid using an open microphone and speakers, such as those built-into laptops or a webcams. Using a good quality headset will often help ensure you can be heard, and can hear others with maximum quality.
- Headsets (headphones with built-in “boom” microphone) prevent feedback, echo, and poor audio in the courtroom. Headsets with a “boom mic” placed close to your mouth are strongly preferred, and will help clarity when speaking through a mask.
- All types of headsets are acceptable (1-ear or 2-ear, over-ear, in-ear, etc.), and can often be purchased for very little money. Wired headsets are strongly recommended due to their ease of use and reliability.
- Wireless (Bluetooth) headsets can be unreliable and Ear-bud style headsets (with the mic on the cord) may be too sensitive and can cause echo problems.
- Avoid noisy and echoing locations. Use of a headset will improve audio quality when this is unavoidable.
- Avoid distracting real or virtual backgrounds. Suitable example.
- Avoid poor camera positioning. Try to frame yourself so you take up most the screen, at eye level.
- Avoid using WiFi if possible. Connection via a hard-wire Ethernet cable will always be faster and more reliable than WiFi. If you must use WiFi, make sure you’re in close range.
- Avoid running any unnecessary applications besides Zoom, to conserve your computer’s processing power and networking.
- For home networks, if possible, avoid sharing your internet service with others during the session.
The court will likely use the audio, video, and breakout room functionality of Zoom. Other functions such as text chat, screen sharing, etc., will likely not be used as often. You should learn the basics of participating in a Zoom Meeting and consult the following sources to learn how to select the correct audio and video source, how to mute/unmute your audio, how to Start/Stop your video, and how to participate in a breakout room.
- Video Information
- Audio Information
- How to mute/unmute with Push to Talk
- Hot Keys and Keyboard Shortcuts to start/stop video, mute, etc.
- Participating in Breakout Rooms