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PT•CRAO ADVISORY UPDATE ● ZOOM proceedings in the Age of Virtual Justice April 19, 2021

 PTCRAO Letterhead

April 19, 2021

 

TO                    Ontario Bar Association

                        Criminal Lawyers’ Association

                        Association of Law Officers of the Crown

                        Ontario Association of Senior Crown Attorneys

                        Ontario Crown Attorneys’ Association

                        Law Society of Ontario

 FROM               PT CRAO Executive

 SUBJECT         ZOOM/Teleconference Audio recordings


 

 PT CRAO is a not-for-profit business association with membership spanning across the Province of Ontario.  Through 55 years of operation, PT CRAO membership has adapted and evolved to meet many challenges.  Our mandate has never changed.  We are committed to ensure the profession of court reporting and transcription services are provided to the highest professional standard possible in both the private and public sectors.  Over the decades, many traditions, relationships, and technologies have changed, and the profession has withstood each challenge head on.  Now, we have COVID, and we face the biggest challenge ever.

 The PT CRAO executive team has been tracking various articles and opinions about how COVID has pushed modernization of the courts.  Unfortunately, modernization has gone straight to ZOOM and teleconference calls as a way to continue in a virtual world that COVID created and digital audio recording technologies have been pushed backwards to primitive standards.

We say this with all seriousness.  Everyone who has a vested interest in the justice system - judges, Crowns, lawyers, every stakeholder from the top down, decisions-makers - have completely overlooked the most important foundation of the justice system: the official court record.  The public would and should be outraged if they only understood exactly what that means.   The official court recording is the only checks and balances to the entire justice system.  Without a stable audio recording, properly preserved and securely stored so that a certified transcript can be produced, there is no accountability.   A certified transcript cannot be produced where audio is obscured or lost.   Lost or obscured words cannot be substituted by something, “it might be”.  That's not the measure.   We work in absolutes, the truth, not what might be, or what was maybe said, or "...that might be something that someone wanted to say, I'll put that in there".  We can't do that, no one can regain lost audio, lost words.   The voice of a victim, or a witness to a crime once their words are lost because the audio is lost, their voices are no longer heard, there’s no record.   It's that important.   Without a safely preserved audio recording of every spoken word, anyone can say whatever they want, even judges, and there can be no challenge.  No one should be above the law, and no voice should go unheard or be lost.

 Here we are in April 2021, and the official court recording, the most important foundation of the justice system, has become a one channel ZOOM or teleconference chat line. This could not be more backwards or more primitive.  All speakers on one channel from multiple unknown remote locations.  On one channel you cannot separate speakers if they talk over one another.   That's lost audio.   On one channel, if there is nothing to identify same gender speakers, then they are simply noted as UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE/MALE VOICE.   ACTS or transcriptionists can't guess who's speaking.  That would be too risky.  Dogs are barking, babies are crying, doors slamming.   One judge was presiding in his kitchen while the sound of his wife washing dishes is audio recorded in the background.  There are bail hearings where lawyers are sitting in their cars on cell phones in parking lots participating via teleconference; the audio recording cannot pick up what they are saying.  People actually laugh at what's going on.   More times than not, transcripts cannot reflect where anyone is, because locations are not identified.  Sometimes participants phone in so they are

not visible, often from custodial institutions, sometimes they appear via ZOOM, but the most the transcript can reflect is that they are all participating from multiple unknown locations.    Here’s another virtual solution, there are examples of Bell recordings of family court proceedings being uploaded into a DRD to store the recording, which is likely located in someone’s living room, and then converted to .dcr files.   There’s a reason why the Bell audio recording has to be converted to a .dcr file, but that is a separate concern.  

However, the effect is the same with the Bell recordings, all speakers through one channel and all the problems associated with that, but also without Form 1s, without annotations or timestamps.  The problem is, regardless of whether there is lost audio, it’s impossible to certify a transcript in Form 2 without a Form 1 certified by a court monitor.

Ultimately, transcripts must reflect the truth ... AUDIO MUFFLED  WORDS OBSCURED =  Audio lost.    Any time something in the background interferes with someone speaking, that's lost audio.  It’s impossible to separate interference that is audio recorded in the background.  You can mute mics and that will silence a remote location, but it’s not often done.  If a speaker has a headset with the mic too close to their mouth, or some kind of volume level at the source that is set too high, then you get HIGH VOLUME AUDIO DISTORTION which equals lost audio.  That lost audio cannot be fixed or somehow preserved through a ZOOM or teleconference recording.   There is no way to eliminate distortion; distortion obliterates spoken words =  Lost audio.   Or, if the Wi-fi connection is unstable, or weak, then, guess what?   AUDIO CUTS IN AND OUT   AUDIO WORDS GARBLED   DISTORTION   AUDIO FADES IN AND OUT   WARBLED AUDIO. These are all descriptions of deficiencies, of lost audio, that must be reflected in transcripts.   Otherwise an ACT who does not reveal the problems, or overlooks the deficiencies, or hides the fact there is lost audio, would be falsely certifying the Form 2 which is a serious breach, because that would be ignoring the truth with potential consequences.   

 INDECIPHERABLE is a word that was given to ACTs when they struggle with the audio, and is entirely not applicable.  Indecipherable means something that cannot be read or understood because something is illegible.  It does not reflect lost audio.

 

In a recent Toronto Star article, there was an examination of a ZOOM or teleconference transcript where there were 44 INDECIPHERABLE’s in 24 minutes of audio recording. That degree of lost audio is unacceptable in any level of civil or criminal court, bail hearings, or tribunals, NCR or ORB hearings, or even an adjournment court. 

 INDISCERNIBLE is another word that is frequently used but does not and cannot demonstrate lost audio in any way whatsoever.  Indiscernible is something that cannot be seen.  It’s not lost audio.

 

Are these words, these definitions, supposed to be used to replace the voice of a witness or a victim?

We are all for whatever makes justice run smoother and more quickly.  But by doing so, by making those things priorities, we are sacrificing the most important element that keeps the justice system safe.  The audio recording captures the truth, the words that victims deserve, words that need to be preserved, that lawyers and Crowns spend hours on defending their positions.   The public deserves the truth, not gaps, not faded or unsure guesses at what someone might have said. 

 The Liberty digital recording and software system that was implemented in 2010 by the original MAG Court Reporting Services team was almost flawless.   We had moved from four-channel analogue tapes, to state-of-the-art digital recording and transcribing equipment.   This push to modernize the courts during COVID has stripped away any progress and effort and time that went into developing this state-of-the-art digital recording technology and has pushed the fundamental importance of the checks and balances in the court system to non-existence. 

 PT CRAO has been advised that Liberty Recorder Systems, which is the approved recording system in every courtroom across the province, has presented a virtual platform solution to the Ministry of the Attorney General which would restore 8 channel digital recording.   We view that as a viable solution.   SEE BELOW

We are not asking a lot.   ACTs just want to be able to produce, and truthfully certify transcripts to the professional standard the people of this province are entitled to.   We can no longer wait this out, without knowing what the solution will be now.   PT CRAO believes it is time ACTs speak now.  We have been patient long enough.  Without a rapid vaccine response in our communities, we are fearful this ZOOM/teleconference solution will continue to do harm.   We ask that you consider the consequences that will arise because the official court digital recording system has been overlooked and replaced with a quick-fix solution.  

We believe our organizations have common interests.   We both have members across the province, and as associations it is our duty to inform our members and ensure the public and the administration of justice is well served.   Transcripts that cannot be certified, serve no one   All courts in the justice system matters.   Your members and the people of this province deserve better.   We would ask you to please share PT CRAO's position that we have submitted to you with your members, or invite them to visit our website at  http://www.ptcrao.ca.   

We welcome further discussion, and if you need examples of transcripts that are being produced as a result of this COVID solution, please do not hesitate to contact us by REPLY ALL email.

 

Best regards,

 

                                           

 

Joanne Hardie                                                     Gloria Scheerer                                           Linda Lebeau
President, PT CRAO                                          Treasurer, PT CRAO                                  Secretary, PT CRAO
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">                              

 

 

NEWS ARTICLE ● The Lawyer's Daily Feb 10, 2021

Bail in time of COVID | Nathan Baker

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 @ 12:23 PM | By Nathan Baker

 

Nathan Baker %>
Nathan Baker

Bail in the time of COVID-19 is an interesting thing. An accused person appearing by video for their bail hearing has been the norm in many court locations for years. However, up until a year ago, the rest of the players in the courtroom drama would be appearing in person. The shift to online hearings has been an example of the opportunities and great work that can be accomplished by a system defined by its hard-working participants. There remain a number of new issues along with these new times and new technologies.

Almost all bail hearings are being conducted with participants attending virtually over Zoom or similar platforms. There are some advantages to this. Lawyers can now attend at locations further from their office or in multiple jurisdictions in a day without having to travel. Sureties too, can attend via a phone or video link which can give greater access to a bail hearing in a shorter time. However, there are drawbacks to this as well. It is much more difficult, almost impossible, for a justice to determine the credibility and reliability of a surety where that surety is testifying by means of an audio connection alone. The quality of connections can be an issue all its own.  

A recent article in the Toronto Star highlighted the problems which courts face. In rural jurisdictions especially, lack of access to stable Internet or strong cell signals can affect the sound quality of participants in a hearing. The increased demands on Internet connections in courts, struggling to deal with multiple online courts with individuals connecting from Crowns’ offices, judicial officials and court staff in the court all stress a system which was not designed for such high usage. Upgrades are ongoing but until they are complete, the system can falter at times.

Audio via Zoom meetings is mono-channel. In courts, each location in court has a separate microphone and a separate channel that can be isolated when preparing transcripts. This was lost when hearings moved online. The court transcriptionist’s bane of multiple parties talking over each other has grown into an, at times, insurmountable hurdle. Interference and background noise further complicate matters. Accurate recordings of proceedings are integral to the justice system. The answer to a question can be the difference between guilt or innocence at times. Whether a condition was worded one way or another in a bail release can have long-ranging effect on an accused party but also on the people that such conditions are imposed to try to protect.

The ability to obtain an accurate transcription of a hearing is a key component to judicial review. Simply put, appeals require transcripts. They rely on them as they set out the facts which courts rely on to justify decisions and recount the decisions themselves which are to be reviewed. Access to judicial review of decisions is foundational to our system of justice.

Appeals have been allowed and mistrials declared when part of a case was not properly recorded. This problem is serious. In a time when all court time is precious, the risk of needing to use an increasing amount of it to deal with this issue is a risk that needs to be mitigated.

The steps taken to allow matters to be dealt with in new ways have been impressive. Change is difficult but has been largely attained due to the stresses of COVID-19. Many of these changes have been beneficial but that does not mean they are not without issue. The justice system cannot rest on its laurels at this time but must continue to push ahead to make things continually better.

The adaptation to new technologies by lawyers, judges and other justice participants has been significant. The problems that are now faced can be dealt with through better use of the technology already adopted. The new systems now in place do not require the kind of sea change which was necessary last March but do require the kind of ongoing investment in improvement to make sure that being good enough does not get in the way of an even better system.

Nathan Baker is a criminal defence lawyer in Peterborough, Ont., and is a sole practitioner at Nathan Baker Law. He takes special interest in impaired driving cases, especially those involving drug impaired driving and impaired boating. E-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photo credit / Mingirov ISTOCKPHOTO.COM


Full article refer to link
https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/24515/bail-in-time-of-covid-nathan-baker

NEWS ARTICLE ● The Lawyer's Daily Mar 30, 2021

When in-person appearances are necessary
Tuesday, March 30, 2021 @ 1:35 PM | By Nathan Baker

Nathan Baker %> 
Nathan Baker

In these trying times of pandemic, lawyers, judges and all justice system participants should be looking to the use of alternative means to proceed. Use of video links, greater use of agreed statements of fact and resolution of issues where possible needs to be encouraged. The Ontario Court of Justice states clearly in its communication that “the Court is committed to facilitating the conduct of proceedings by remote technology (video or phone) wherever possible and urges all judicial officials, parties and counsel to use remote proceedings unless an in-person appearance is required to ensure meaningful access to justice.”


The Superior Court of Justice states: “all non-jury matters should proceed virtually unless it is absolutely necessary to hold the proceedings in-person. To the greatest extent possible, all other avenues should be explored and implemented.” Simply put, matters should not be physically before a court of first instance where other modes of procedure can accommodate the hearing.

However, both courts refer to the exceptional situation where an in-person appearance is necessary to ensure that justice is achieved. Such an issue arose in the case of Woods (Re), 2021 ONCA 190. In that case, the Ontario Review Board (ORB) proceeded with a disposition review hearing via videoconference over the respondent’s objection. Section 672.5(13) of the Criminal Code allows for a videoconference to be used “if the accused so agrees,” but in this case the accused did not.

The review board proceeded nonetheless as it felt that there were sufficient reasons requiring it to and the imposition of the emergency order justified this. The Superior Court disagreed and quashed the board’s decision. It found that interpreting s. 715.21 of the Code that requires “except as otherwise provided in this Act, a person who appears at, participates in or presides at a proceeding shall do so personally,” requires that the person must be physically present.

The Court of Appeal upheld the finding of the Superior Court. “The statutory regime provides no authority for the Board to conduct its hearing by videoconference without the consent of the NCR accused.” The Court of Appeal went on to state that “the rights provided in the Criminal Code and the principles of natural justice must be zealously guarded in disposition hearings, even in the face of a global pandemic.”

The vast majority of cases can proceed through some use of technology to limit the number of individuals, and the number of appearances for those individuals, who need to attend in person for criminal matters. There certainly are cases that require in-person appearances, but they should be reserved for required cases. As the court stated: “I am not prepared to treat the difference between an in-person hearing and a videoconference hearing as insignificant. The court must be cautious in endorsing such a broad proposition about the rights of vulnerable people in a time of crisis.”

Parliament can amend the Code to deal with this issue should it become more widespread and certainly should, at least, consider the pros and cons of doing so. Taking into account technology that exists now that did not a decade ago and the comfort level of many people to participate via technological means, Parliament should assess the benefits of its use to the challenges which it may present.

The Code allows judges to preside remotely where certain factors support doing so. A court can order an accused to appear remotely and can allow evidence to be taken remotely. There are tests in place to allow this. The fact that something is allowed does not mean that it should be done.

There will continue to be cases where in-person hearings are necessary and better. In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, every justice system participant needs to give a hard look at whether it is necessary in the present case. If the ability to insist on in-person hearings is abused, then Parliament may look at limiting their use even further, which would be a loss for everyone. In-person proceedings should be avoided during the pandemic when possible but protected for those cases where the interests of justice require.

Nathan Baker is a criminal defence lawyer in Peterborough, Ont., and is a sole practitioner at Nathan Baker Law. He takes special interest in impaired driving cases, especially those involving drug impaired driving and impaired boating. E-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photo credit / Mingirov ISTOCKPHOTO.COM


Full article refer to link
https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/25714/when-in-person-appearances-are-necessary

NEWS ARTICLE ● The Lawyer's Daily Mar 19, 2021

Swearing in court: The upside 
Friday, March 19, 2021 @ 2:42 PM | By Marcel Strigberger

 

Here’s why you should swear at work, according to science. And here’s an Ontario judge who recently did just this. More about that to follow.


Udi Ledergor, B2B marketing executive at Gong, penned an article reviewing studies that demonstrate the benefits of dropping verbal bombs. It notes that people who swear have higher levels of emotional intelligence, a larger vocabulary and even a higher IQ. The IQ part certainly is interesting. I am thinking about Einstein. I wonder how he reacted when the cynics assailed his theory of relativity.

HOT SHOT SCIENTIST: Professor Einstein, your theory of relativity is unintelligible nonsense. Balderdash! Who do you think you are? Sir Isaac Newton?

EINSTEIN:   #@%&= you2

The study also notes that people who swear have a higher level of integrity. I am not aware of any studies in the legal context but if this is true, it could be of vital benefit for lawyers in preparing their witnesses for trial. We could soon see judges give interesting reasons for their decisions:

JUDGE: I accept the evidence of the plaintiff Henderson. It has a ring of truth in it. He was forthright, had a positive demeanour and dropped about a dozen F-bombs.

However, we all know the justice system is slow to change. Alas!

The research also indicated that cursing increases the effectiveness and persuasiveness of an argument. Salespeople who used profanity trusted each other more, resulting in 18 per cent more wins.

Which lawyer would not want that? When can we now expect a bar association webinar titled, “Increase your court victories by 18 per cent; no sh*t.”

It seems not only humans but even chimpanzees swear. They do so by sign language. Cats are also suspected of swearing although the data is skimpy on this one. So far, the only four-letter word they are known to emit is a meow. I suppose we can also count a purr.

Now for that Ontario Court of Justice judge incident. As a Zoom impaired driving trial in Toronto was apparently concluding, Justice Paul Robertson believing he was now muted, annoyed by defence lawyer Sherif Foda’s cross-examination, expressed some anger, saying, to wit, “I have Mr. F—ing Foda here.”

Unfortunately, the said Mr. Foda (I am not repeating His Honour’s graphic adjective; I concede my intelligence is not up to the task) overheard the judge’s unequivocal comment. He immediately pleaded for a mistrial. This was a wise move by Mr. Foda. Alternatively I suppose he could have sworn back at the judge. Remember his chances of winning the argument would have been upped by 18 per cent. However given the judge’s slight acrimonious disposition at the moment, the mistrial route was probably the prudent one.

Fortunately, the judge agreed that he had lost his temper and he granted the mistrial. I would say this was a wise decision on his part.  Otherwise what would Foda’s factum record have looked like in the Court of Appeal:

“1) It is respectfully submitted that the learned trial judge compromised the appearance of fairness by making a disparaging comment about defence lawyer’s sexual activities …”

Either way this incident certainly took access to justice to a new dimension.

Justice Robertson of course also apologized. Another victim of Zoom going boom. COVID-19 has  led to the justice system adopting Zoom type technology but occasionally it gets it wrong. (I need not use a more graphic expression for “gets it wrong.”)

I am thinking of that Texas lawyer who recently Zoomed in but by accident came on via a video filter as a cat. Maybe there are some possibilities for swearing via Zoom. How about a judge coming on via a filter as a chimpanzee? Hey, a progressive leap; justice meets science?

I must note that the article concludes that notwithstanding the alleged benefits of swearing according to science, there is still a general taboo of doing so in the workplace.

In other words, don’t try this in your courtroom. Yet.

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. Visit www.marcelshumour.com. Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

 

Full article refer to link

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/business/articles/25475/-swearing-in-court-the-upside-marcel-strigberger-

NEWS ARTICLE ● Canadian Lawyer Mag Jun 2, 2020

COVID-19’s profound impact on justice

Trials are being cancelled when they could be conducted remotely, argues Michael Spratt

By Michael Spratt
OPINION 02 Jun 2020

 

If an innocent person is held in jail and not allowed to set a trial and a guilty person on bail is not allowed to plead guilty, can we really call it a justice system?

There is no need to construct a fanciful hypothetical to answer the question. All you need to do is take a trip through the looking glass and into Canada’s COVID courthouses.

Following the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, courtrooms across Canada shut down operations. This was a necessary measure. Our outdated and archaic justice system relied on close physical contact, paper documents, and personal appearance. To continue business as usual would have created a breeding ground for the spread of the virus.

In fact, it was defence lawyers, led by the fearless president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, John Struthers, who were a key group in pushing for enhanced safety measures, including the temporary suspension of normal court operations.

That was in March. And today, months later, our courts are still shuttered.

But don’t say the word “closed” to Geoffrey Morawetz, chief justice  of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. In an April fireside chat hosted by the Advocates’ Society, Chief Justice Morawetz set the record straight, saying, “And let me be very clear, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has never closed. March 17, effective that day, we suspended in-court operations, but made it very clear right from the get-go that the court was operating. It continues to operate, and it is never going to stop operating.”

Superior courts are open for business — unless that business includes a trial, scheduling a trial, arguing a motion, pleading guilty, or doing almost anything else. 

And the same is true across the country.

In Ontario, since March 17, all courts have been scheduling emergency matters only. Bail hearings are being conducted by video or over the phone. Some guilty pleas can now be accommodated. In-custody accused can plead guilty in limited circumstances, mostly to get out of jail. And out-of-custody accused, in some jurisdictions, can plead guilty if all parties agree that jail is off the table.

So no, our courts are not open – they have been closed for weeks. And they are not set to open, at the earliest, until July, and jury trials are not set to resume until September.

I have clients who have waited for months in jail for their day in court, only to have their trials cancelled. At present they are not even able to set new trial dates. Our justice system is now forcing the presumed innocent to suffer an indeterminate wait behind bars.

I also have clients who have been released on strict bail conditions but want to plead guilty and serve their short sentences. But they can’t. Instead, the justice system is forcing them to wait on house arrest, or separated from their children, or suspended from their jobs.

This is not justice.

Some COVID-19 court disruptions were necessary to protect the public. There is no going back to business as usual.

And years of neglect and ossification mean the justice system started the pandemic with one technological hand tied behind its back. But, that does not change the current staggering and unprecedented lack of any meaningful access to justice.

It is possible to do more business remotely. The Ontario Review Board is conducting hearings by Zoom. Why can’t our courts conduct trials in the same way? Even before COVID-19 parts of trials were often conducted via video; complainants in many sexual assault cases and all cases involving child witnesses testified over video link. Why could this technology not have been expanded for trials during COVID-19?

Too often our justice system reflexively resists any change. It is time for that to end. Remote trials may not be appropriate in all cases, but the majority of trials, especially in our busy lower courts, can be conducted remotely in whole or in part. It may not be a perfect option, but where the accused consents it is surely better than the inefficient limbo we seem to be stuck in now.

Maybe this is all too much for a system that was stuck in the 1980s; but that does not excuse the seeming lack of any proactive planning after the pandemic hit.

Detained accused and their lawyers have yet to be told how trials will be rescheduled when courts do open back up. Who will get priority? What factors will be considered? Will extra courts be added? Will new judges be hired? Will defence counsel receive additional funding to do extra work?

With hundreds of judges and crown attorneys sitting at home (and receiving a salary), this was the time to plan, triage and schedule.

There is no question that all the individual actors in the justice system are doing their best in a tough situation. I have seen extraordinary acts of accommodation, creativity and compassion. But individually we can only do so much. And it is not enough.

The truth is, no judge, crown attorney or politician is facing detention without trial. They have not received the call from a distraught client who is at their breaking point. If they had, maybe there would be trials, or the ability to set trials, or a plan on how we will set trials, or a plan on how to plan. There is an avalanche about to hit our already overburdened justice system, and I’ve seen no indication of a real plan to address the looming catastrophe.

We are all doing our best to keep the justice system functioning, but our best efforts are not good enough when, with all due respect to Chief Justice Morawetz, our courts are closed.

And a system that does not dispense justice can hardly be called a justice system.

 

Full article refer to link
https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/news/opinion/covid-19s-profound-impact-on-justice/330162

NEWS ARTICLE ● The Toronto Star Mar 18, 2021

Zoom has brought a welcome revolution to Ontario courts. Now, about those teething problems...
By Alyshah Hasham Courts Reporter
Thu., March 18, 2021

 

Late on a February afternoon in Zoom court, someone interrupted the testimony of a witness.

The judge was no longer in the virtual court.

It was not the first time an unstable internet connection had caused delays in the trial or even the first that a key participant suddenly dropped out of the call. On this occasion, court adjourned for the day when it became unclear how long it might take for the judge to return.

Many of the tech issues that come with Zoom court — echoing audio, freezing video, background noise — feel familiar now despite being unheard of this time last year….

 

Full article refer to link

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/03/18/zoom-has-brought-a-welcome-revolution-to-ontario-courts-now-about-those-teething-problems.html

NEWS ARTICLE ● CTV News Mar 9, 2021

Zoom hearing abruptly ends when court realizes suspect is in same home as victim of alleged assault

Tom Yun

Tom YunCTVNews.ca writer
@thetomyun Contact
Published Tuesday, March 9, 2021 8:16PM EST 
Last Updated Wednesday, March 10, 2021 1:54PM EST

 
TORONTO -- A U.S. court hearing via Zoom for a man accused of assault was abruptly adjourned after he was discovered to have been attending the hearing from the complainant's home.

 Nearly 900,000 people have watched the video of the hearing, which was livestreamed on YouTube.

 Coby James Harris, 21, appeared in court via Zoom after being charged with assault with intent to commit bodily harm, according to news verification agency Storyful.

 At the start of the hearing on March 2, Mary Lindsey, who was the complainant in this case, took the virtual witness stand to answer questions.

 But soon after, prosecutor Deborah Davis noticed something was off after she saw Lindsey looking away from the camera while answering her questions.

"Your honour, I have reason to believe that the defendant is in the same apartment as the complaining witness right now and I'm extremely scared for her safety. And the fact that she's looking off to the side and he’s moving around, I want some confirmation that she is safe."

Judge Jeffrey Middleton asked Lindsey and Harris where they were. Both stated that they were at their respective homes in Sturgis, Mich.

 But when Middleton asked Harris to bring his phone outside and show his house number on camera, Harris began to make excuses.

 "I don't even think this phone has the charge for that. I'm at like two per cent right now. I’m hooked up to the wall charger right here," said Harris.

 Police arrived at Lindsey's apartment and found Harris there, contrary to his bail conditions.

"Your honour, me and Mary both don’t want the no-contact. I ask that that be dropped. I'm sorry I lied to you. I knew the cops were outside," Harris told the judge, while being handcuffed by police.

 "(Mr) Harris, my advice is don’t say anything else," Middleton replied. "The hearing is adjourned. Your bond is cancelled. If you have $10 million, you can’t bond out. In addition, the prosecutor’s probably also going to charge you with obstruction of justice."

The hearing was adjourned and rescheduled for March 16.

"This is an issue we didn’t have when we had live court. This is the first time to my knowledge, if he is in the same venue, that this has occurred," Middleton told the courtroom.

"That's the first time I ever had anybody sitting in the next room, potentially intimidating a witness."

 
 
Full article refer to link