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Telephonic Court Appearance Services Go Nationwide
A 10-minute appearance in federal court can mean hours caught in traffic or a
long plane or train ride for lawyers and others involved in the litigation.
Significant savings of time and money could be achieved in some non-evidentiary
proceedings if an appearance were, literally, phoned in.
“Telephonic court appearances are very convenient for lawyers, and can
significantly reduce their travel time and costs,” said Peter McCabe, Assistant
Director of the Administrative Office’s Office of Judges Programs.
Some district and bankruptcy courts already employ that option for
proceedings such as status hearings, but master license agreements awarded by
the AO to four vendors made telephonic court appearance services more easily
available nationwide, effective March 20, 2006.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California has used
such a service for longer than a decade. “It certainly has helped bankruptcy
trustees and the attorneys who represent the parties, saving some of them from
having to travel 280 to 300 miles for a brief appearance,” said Clerk of Court
“Overall, things have been running very smoothly,” he said, adding that users
have had to learn a certain etiquette. “Speaker phones are not a good idea, and
cell phones can be a problem at times.”
Individual courts can select one or more of the four teleconferencing
vendors, who are charged with seamlessly integrating services that result in
little or no disruption to a court’s daily activities. No additional duties or
responsibilities are created for courtroom staff.
“Judges benefit from using telephonic court appearance services because it
helps them run a more efficient courtroom and expedite law and motions
proceedings,” McCabe said. “Courts benefit from these services because all of
the logistics are handled by the vendors, rather than by the court staff.”
The type of proceeding dictates the number of participants on a call, but the
four vendors have the ability to host a maximum of 100 participants on one
call—a feature especially important for bankruptcy cases in which many creditors
can be affected.
Use of these services is subject to each court’s local policies and
procedures. To discover whether telephonic appearance services are offered by a
particular court, check with the clerk of court’s office or visit that court’s