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Indiana Court Times on 1/11/2021 by Mary DePrez
Article 1 of the Indiana Constitution proclaims that “all courts shall be open,” that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to a public trial” and that victims of crime have the right to be “present during public hearings.”
How does a court accommodate the rights bestowed by our Constitution during a public health emergency?
On March 6, 2020, Governor Holcomb declared a public health emergency in Indiana by Executive Order. Because of this, many courthouses were closed to the public temporarily. Courts turned to telephonic hearings and video conferencing software.
The Indiana Office of Judicial Administration immediately recognized the need to provide courts the tools they needed to conduct remote hearings. In mid-April, the Office of Court Technology announced that it would provide each judicial officer a Zoom enterprise license. The enterprise license has increased security and technological features that make a virtual hearing easier to navigate. Instructions and guidance were developed to assist judges and their staff on how to use Zoom and webcast a live stream.