The Supreme Court already allows attorneys, litigants and witnesses to appear in certain routine court hearings by telephone, but the proposal to allow trial testimony through a video link is a major step beyond that.
“With the technology available today, it is very feasible for witnesses and litigants to appear in trials and other court hearings through video links,” Chief Justice Michael L. Douglas said in a press release. “Use of such technology would greatly expand access to justice, particularly for residents in rural Nevada, where a limited number of attorneys practice law and access to expert witnesses is difficult.”
The Supreme Court and many other governmental entities already use video links to take comments in administrative matters or hold meetings, Douglas said.
“Using today’s technology for courtroom trials and hearings is simply the next logical step,” he added.
Under the proposed rules, adequate video equipment must be available in both the courtroom and the location where the witness or other individual would be appearing.
If a video appearance is inappropriate or not feasible, a judge could order a personal appearance.
A public hearing on the proposed rules is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at in the Supreme Court’s Carson City courtroom. The hearing will be videoconferenced to the Supreme Court courtroom at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. Anyone wishing to comment can do so from either location.
The proposed rule would allow audiovisual appearances in such matters as:
• Civil trials and hearings, including family law matters.
• Criminal trials, penalty hearings and preliminary hearings.
• Hearings on restraining orders.
• Settlement conferences
• Any proceeding stipulated to by the parties and approved by the court.
The proposed rule would require personal appearances by:
• Applicants seeking certain ex parte orders.
• Persons ordered to appear to determine if sanctions should be imposed for violations of court orders or rules.
• Persons ordered to appear in an order or citation issued under Nevada Revised Statute Title 12.
The proposed rules are available on the Supreme Court website, www.nevadajudiciary.us. Click on “Administrative Orders” and scroll to ADKT 424.