For close to two weeks now, the judiciary has been conducting most of its proceedings online. In a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Judiciary scaled down court operations and moved to use online platforms. The Magistrates are using Zoom, Skype and Facebook for these proceedings. According to the Star, the Judiciary has delivered 7,000 judgments since it scaled down its operations in March due to the coronavirus outbreak. However as some lawyers put it, it has become a nightmare.
These online Court sessions are basically 98% us asking the Court whether they can see and hear us ??♂️? it is even confusing to my neighbors. They keep hearing me shouting “My Lord can you see me?” “I can’t hear you my Lord” pic.twitter.com/kDowYjrTVA
— Ochieng Oginga (@ArnoldOginga) May 6, 2020
Struggles of Online Court Proceedings
The department has been know to often fail to keep up with technology and the prospect of video conferencing tools did not take too well either. The main aim of these tools is to reduce interaction between the judges, lawyers and anyone else involved in the court. But there are a few complaints.
One of them being background noise. Unfortunately, not everyone is conversant with the basics of a zoom call, including muting their microphones. So in many cases, the lawyers and judges are forced to endure background noises while the dish out justice. The President of the LSK, Mr Nelson Havi notes that he has had to involuntarily listen to people who are talking about trips to Dubai and others who are boiling their maize.
Discipline is also a problem as the lawyers are not following the rules and regulations of courtrooms. For example, one lawyer had to be reprimanded for joining a zoom meeting while still in bed.
Another problem is the common ‘ Can you hear me’ issue we may have all endured in a zoom call. The judges note that sometimes it turns into shouting matches between them and the defendants. In fact, most of the lawyers say this method is not workable and the courts should be open soon.
Court proceedings through zoom are just uncomfortable.. but we must get used to it as Advocates! I hope the person who drunk bat soup bites his tongue nqt. pic.twitter.com/2TYfIHI0Z1
— Ochieng Oginga (@ArnoldOginga) April 30, 2020
In light of this, Judy Omange, the Registrar of the high court says that they are happy with the fact that many people are able to access judiciary services through these platforms. They hope to eventually improve on the delivery of justice through technology in the coming future.