Monday, August 3, 2020

Mute the Barking, Playing, Sirening, Shuffling, Pinging, Drinking and Breathing Sounds, Please

Travelers Cas. & Sur. Co. of Amer. v. Omni Contracting Co., Inc.
(SDNY, 7/25/2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted most aspects of court practice, including in-person appearances and hearings.  It has also caused United States District Court Judge Nelson Román, when converting an in-person show cause hearing to a teleconference, to remind counsel to follow the court's "guidelines" for teleconference participation:
  1. Use a landline whenever possible. 
  2. Use handset rather than speakerphone. 
  3.  Identify yourself each time you speak. 
  4. Be mindful that, unlike in a courtroom setting, interrupting can render both speakers unintelligible. 
  5. Mute when not speaking to eliminate background noise, i.e., dog barking, kids playing, sirens, papers shuffling, emails pinging, drinking, breathing. It all comes through. This will also prevent interruptions. 
  6. Avoid voice-activated systems that don't allow the speaker to know when someone else is trying to speak and they cut off the beginning of words. 
  7. Spell proper names. 
  8. Have judge confirm reporter is on the line. 
  9. If someone hears beeps or musical chimes, that means someone has either come in or left the conference. Please be aware that the judge may need to clarify that the reporter has not lost the line. (This has happened before, and the reporter had to dial back in and tell the judge the last thing that the court reporter transcribed.)
For those wondering, Judge Román is two days older than me (so he surely speaks from experience about the audio reliability of landlines) and is someone who doesn't like dog-loving, paper-shuffling, heavy breathing, well-hydrated attorneys who have kids, live near first responders, prefer paper to plastic, and email a lot.  

Just kidding.  'Cept about being two days older than me.  

And who spells any more (other than Siri)?  

I'm out.  [Chime]

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