In Uncategorized on 11/16/2022 at 14:43

Those were the keywords from today’s Tax Court webinar, the first of perhaps a quarterly series of judges, LITC clinicians, OCC attorneys, and private sector pro bonos discussing matters of interest. Today it was Zoom.

Send your topic suggestions for future webinars to, and tell ’em Taishoff sent ya.

The conquest of the Zoomosphere being accomplished, some of its benefits were catalogued. Remote calendar calls let LITCs and calendar call commandos aid taxpayers afar remote from their accustomed venues. Witnesses debarred from travel could appear at trial. Electronic document exchanges obviate the need for 18-wheelers to pull up to the courthouse door with forklifts to unload bales of paper.

The Zooming of Tax Court also gave rise to the circumvention of Rule 147 and the Stealth Subpoena by the subpoena hearing. Looks like the 8/6/20 press release has materially aided the discovery and stipulation processes, and will continue even post-pandemic.

Ch J Kathleen (“TBS = The Big Shillelagh”) Kerrigan noted that now 35% of petitions are e-filed; more e-filing is encouraged. It was not so very long ago that then Ch J Maurice B (“Mighty Mo”) Foley was tossing e-filed petitions even as the pandemic raged and Tax Court itself was closed. I’m glad the someone’s continuous advocacy for e-filing has now paid off.

On the downside, trial tactics needed rethinks. the “Hollywood Squares” format Zoom imposes put some practitioners off: too many places to look, ordinary body movement in a courtroom, unnoticed in the open, are magnified on the small screen. The nervous witness looks evasive; how can counsel correct the impression? Flipping from screened documents to looking at witness and judge takes some learning.

For many self-representeds, the informality of television impairs their cause. They don’t realize that this is a real court. Trying your case while driving around town does not add weight to your arguments.

But, all in all, it’s working.

Edited to add: A Taishoff shout-out to the Villanova LITC boss for pointing out how Tax Court staff worked to calm and encourage camera-shy pro ses, and did a great job keeping the Court going. Well done, staff.


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