In Uncategorized on 07/28/2020 at 13:28

As if remote trials, Zoomed or otherwise, weren’t enough, today Judge Morrison has a trio of cases wherein trials shall be conducted by telephone, maybe.

Solely by way of illustration of the foregoing, as my two-Grey-Goose-Gibson-remote-lunching colleagues would say, here’s Edgardo Juan Caminos & Susana Beatriz Caminos, Docket No. 12511-19S, filed 7/28/20.

“…this case is calendared for trial during the Court’s September 21, 2020, Houston, Texas Trial Session, to be conducted remotely at a date and time certain of 4:00 p.m. (Central Time) on Wednesday, September 23, 2020. The trial will be conducted through videoconferencing, or by Order of Court, by telephone. No one participating in the trial will be present at the Houston courthouse.” Order, at p. 1.

These cases are all small-claimers. Two of the petitioners are pro se, but one has an attorney.

Without wishing to seem as if I’m second-guessing anyone’s trial strategy, how does one assess the credibility of a witness on the telephone? One can hook up a voice-analyzer, but unless the litigant is a frequent litigator if not a first-class rounder, or possesses unusual sang froid, of course his/her voice will exhibit stress. How can one assess body language, which speaks as loud as words, without looking at the witness? Perhaps Ernest Bramah’s blind detective Max Carrados could do it, but that’s fiction.

If credibility of witnesses is no issue, why have a trial? Do a Rule 122 on affidavits and documents.

I know people play video poker, where one can neither see nor hear one’s opponents; but that’s an AP statistics exam, not poker. Tells are everything, both at the table and in the courtroom.



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