Jury trials over videoconference. It's here!

Jury trials over Zoom? It’s happening in Texas.


Lawyers in Collin County District Court yesterday selected a jury to hear an insurance dispute by videoconference, in what is believed to be the first virtual jury trial to be held nationally during the COVID-19 crisis.

“You can’t drag people down to the courthouse and make them sit together for days at a time,” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht declared. “It’s just too dangerous.”…


With jury trials on hold throughout the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic, court officials in Texas are trying something new: let jurors hear a case through Zoom.

Lawyers in an insurance dispute in Collin County District Court on Monday picked a jury to hear the case by videoconference, in what officials believe is the first virtual jury trial to be held nationally amid the COVID-19 crisis…



Wow. Loser appeals, no matter what.

Keeping the attention of jurors will be nigh on impossible.


I’ve done a full day Zoom trial and two shorter motion hearings on Zoom. Love it! Yes, there are shortcomings. Nothing is perfect.

However, it saves me hours of drive time and hustle and bustle and this saves my clients money.

It also saves me from killing trees and collating exhibits in triplicate and then documents going everywhere in the best of the trial. That is a significant savings in time for case prep.

I have 3 monitors, impeccably organized digitally exhibits, all pre marked digitally exhibit w numbers, and electronically annotated so I see every relevant part of each document. It was so great working with virtual documents.

It further focused you on the relevant issues. My first trial I put 32 exhibits in, dramatically using many on cross to terrific effect. Opposing attorney put 0 exhibits in. He did not know how to screen share, thus he could not show exhibits to a witness. Yeah, he’ll learn but not my job to teach him how.

Yeah, was a great experience. This was a bench trial however. Jury trials are more performance and Zoom tactics will need to change from what I did for a bench trial. But I’m sure we can all adjust.

I am so organized and focused Zoom trials favor me. If you want to sell a more emotional :sob: case I’d object to a Zoom trial. But I seldom need to play for tears. So good for me.

So, overall, rather enjoyed using Zoom. The real time exchanges need to improve. Talking over each other due to latency is a pain. But then again it forces more listening, which is a good thing one might think.

So thumbs up to Zoom for trials. It can be further refined for the vertical and made even better.



This morning when I made my comment I did check to make sure Saul’s post referred to a jury. I do think there’s no problem for a bench trial.

Tinker, what about the 40-minute limit on free Zoom accounts? Your experience there. Which party in the trial process is obligated to a) start the call? b) restart the call or buy a better experience?

Inquiring minds, well, want to know…


We used what the court provided. Every 40 minutes we took a break and continued. Remarkable how quickly 40 minutes comes and goes in a trial. It was a rather forced way to do a trial w out question.

This particular trial involved middle class folk. This was not a large monied case. As such I never broached the subject of using anything else. We could have waited another 6 months or so for an in person trial date or take what was offered.

If this were one of my more monied cases I don’t know if the court would have accepted a private Zoom account. I’m sure if by consent of the other party it would be fine. Absent that we go with what the court is offering. This particular county (largest county in the state) was offering the free option.

The court provided the account. We just put in the meeting number each time and gave our witnesses the same. They were kept in their own waiting rooms.

Frankly, I’ve taken jury trials on a few weeks notice when no one else would dare. I take what is given and make it work. So I did not complain. I just laughed, used my time strategically, and kept signing back in (my credentials automatically reloaded each time so was simple).

Your more, let’s say, “high strung” attorneys would have real issues. No doubt about it. It was a compromise. But I take what is given to me and make it work. That is how I can have blue collar clients and white collar clients, as you handle the cases w what you got and not w what you want. Perhaps that is why it worked for me.

Yes, I left stuff out that would not have been left out we’re it an in person trial. But you know what it just made me focus more on our best stuff, and that stuff was devastating and I did not dilute it.

So it is what it is. It was sufficient to give due process during a period of emergency. I don’t think the outcome would have been different in person.

Unfortunately, the judge told me afterwards, I was the first attorney who actually figured out how to use the Zoom system!

That is either an indictment of Zoom for being too complicated or the computer savvy of most of my peers :(. Not much more to tell on that as Zoom is not complicated.

In the end it allowed our case to move forward, it was sufficient, the paperless aspect of it was great (I mean I loved an absolutely paperless trial), I was forced to focus on our best stuff, and it was consistent w due process. A positive experience.

Whether the bar will think so moving forward given how few other attorneys appear to have figured out how to use the system…tbd. But to date, until courts open middle of next month (I have an in person date for late next month) I have not heard of any appeals or objections. So like it or not Zoom trials are moving forward (even using the free option). Yeah, that sounds absurd but we made it work.



We used what the court provided. Every 40 minutes we took a break and continued. Remarkable how quickly 40 minutes comes and goes in a trial. It was a rather forced way to do a trial w out question.

Tinker, for gosh sakes, a paid Zoom account with unlimited minutes would have cost you all of $15. It’s just $15 a month, or $150 a year. You would have spent that on something else without thinking. You would have spent it on travel to the court if you weren’t using Zoom. You could have added $15 to your fee as “expenses” and your client wouldn’t have noticed. Having a free Zoom account where you have to stop every 40 minutes seems like a pretty silly way to economize.


It’s just $15 a month, or $150 a year.

Which said, hard to imagine why the court wouldn’t have the paid license since it will presumably be hosting many trials and using Zoom will provide significant cost savings.


We lawyers get very busy. I have not needed to use pay features even though I use Zoom all the time for creating chalk talk videos for marketing purposes.

Guess what, that is government working at its norm! Since that is all they offered us, we assumed it was not ridiculously cheap! Jinkies, $15! How is Zoom making money at that rate? And yet here they are doing so.



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Do you know how many can be on the call for the $15?

Maybe it’s a small number and they make money on their 1000 / 3000 call and up packages.

I know my company has one 3000 person license and at the beginning of COVID there are several “all company” calls for each division.

We only had 1, 3000-person license, which was being used at the time and so we were stuck with a 1000 person license so some folks got bumped off.

I think the $$ must be in the larger number license that the company pays for regardless of whether or not they use it.

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100 participants for basic plan.

He’s is their pricing:



Pricing is here https://zoom.us/pricing

$15/mo or $150/yr gets you 100 per meeting. For anything other than all company or public presentations I would expect that is enough, but you will see that for each plan there are add-ons to 1000 participants and webinar versions up to 10,000 participants (farther down the page). Significantly, only the host needs to be so licensed, so one 10,000 user license per company is likely to be required since there is unlikely to be two 10,000 attendee meetings happening at the same time.

$15/mo or $150/yr gets you 100 per meeting.

And for a jury trial how many do you need? I did a quick estimate and came up with 25… hard to imagine needing much more than that.

The economics are insane. Each judge could simply pay $150 a year and have thousands of non-paying people each year use the service.

I mean when I call someone on a phone the person on the other line, whether landline or mobile, is paying someone something for the service. Each person. And here you have $15 a month and only one person amongst thousands needs to pay for it.

From a personal perspective I have no need to have to host 100 people, or to go mover than 40 minutes. Yet Zoom is bringing in mucho bucks so someone is paying at a high margin for Zoom. Thus, why I expected a commercial option to be more expensive than it is. I thought it absurd to only charge $15 a month to be able to host everyone else for free.

Therefore, I have to conclude that there must be more to the enterprise pricing than is specified on the website. The “talk to sales associate” language. This is also why I have not paid much attention to all the free users on the system. They really don’t matter. It is the enterprise contracts that matter. The court system clearly is not going to give much economic return. Lets say there are 15 judges in Fulton County Superior Court (largest county in the state). Zoom gets $2,250 per year from the court system. Meanwhile Verizon gets nearly that much from me just for my personal mobile phone account + every other person who works in the court system as they all have mobile phones.

I will let other people address the issue. I’ve learned to use Zoom for marketing purposes that translated nicely into use in court. I just never felt compelled to dig into Zoom given the high multiple it had. You can maybe point to 3 or 4 companies in the history of the world who have given excellent returns without some sort of huge long term crash that may have sold at such a high multiple like that. Mobileye is one and they were bought out by Intel at like 30x plus forward revenues. As such, I have not dug into the details of their business model (unlike me not to jus know this stuff, but there you go).

Getting old, limited energy. Perhaps someone else is more familiar with the economics of Zoom. The price they are charging appears to be ridiculously cheap. I mean, non-profits appear to be greedier (and many are but lets not get into that :wink: ).


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Suck them in for free. Make it the go to way to communicate. Then ask for a fee, to people that think it necessary.

It’s a more gruesome deployment story but Singapore has reached the far end of serving judgements with Zoom.


Zoom continues to achieve a mixed result in top tier deployment.

Singapore Government uses it in some use cases/departments but has suspended it in others. The same goes for US schooling and remains under evaluation or pending redress of security concerns in other US Government departments. UK Government still relies on Zoom for cabinet meetings.

I’ve heard of massive corporate deployments within companies like Deloitte alongside other platforms (Skype for business I think in Deloitte’s case) - usually most enterprises operate 2 platforms either internal and external or mass use vs mission critical/secure use. Sanofi seems to have switched global VC platforms from Adobe Connect to Zoom.


Tinker, I think the point with Zoom is not the high dollars that it can pull from one market, like the courts, but rather the ubiquity of its possible use. E.g., my wife has two groups which normally have met for coffee once a week (Master Gardeners and BMW motorcyclists!) which haven’t been able to meet. They are now meeting on Zoom and in both cases someone has bought a Pro license to facilitate the meetings. Same with a friend who participates in an AAII chapter since it takes a Pro license for someone to participate phone only and three of the chapter members have no webcam … and can’t find one to buy in the current market. My understanding is that AAII is switching from GoToMeeting to Zoom as a national standard.

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Business pay for many licenses as well as per physical meeting room. Large companies can have a LOT of physical meeting rooms. A company of 1000 people can have dozens of meetings happening each hour. Imagine a company with 100,000+ employees. Every person who coordinates meetings needs to have a license since most meetings are an hour long in my experience and it gets old having to restart at 40 min. Note if the host doesn’t show up for the meeting, it doesn’t count.

As companies approach the start of at least a partial transition back to working in offices, consider these points based on real-world experience:

  • People are now used to easy 1-on-1 and small group impromptu meetings as well as a better experience in regular meetings (everyone can see all the documents, share presentations, see everyone’s face, etc.) Joining a meeting I might not normally attend, while working, just to see a demo or listen in on a review or presentation is an awesome productivity benefit as well. This was something that you just couldn’t do before without taking up space and rudely using a computer right in front of everyone instead of making eye contact.

  • In order to approach re-opening offices, companies must have office meeting rooms and computers setup to support continued remote communications as there will still be a significant portion of the workforce working remotely. You can’t have people go back to work and have trouble getting on Zoom meetings with those still remote. We know a lot of companies will embrace remote work so secure communication between those behind a firewall and those outside will remain business-critical.

  • In order to set up offices (whether workstations or meeting rooms) you can not use solutions unless they can be safely let through firewalls. Zoom should pass security checks as of May 31st. I can share that while MS Teams could be considered here the quality when tested made it a non-starter. Hangouts, Meet and other cloud solutions would be terrible through air-gapped browsers and such. I’m not sure if any of this requires a tier above free.

  • I doubt many of you will have thought of this (or care), but Zoom works great on Linux too so there is no operating system that would block a complete integration. This is really important.