By Christina Stout
WOODLAND – Zoom has been a major topic of discussion in recent months with people in general, and lawyers and courts specifically—Zoom has become part of many people’s daily lives.
But how will the courts and jurors adjust to this new normal? Will both parties be given a fair trial under these circumstances?
The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office raised these concerns in Yolo County Superior Court Friday during a pretrial conference.
Reginald Robinson, the defendant, is set for trial Nov. 2, and Deputy Public Defender Stephen Betzolo offered an expert witness for this case. But Deputy District Attorney Sara Abrate felt that the circumstances surrounding this expert will not allow for a fair trial.
However, the expert that defense retained did not feel comfortable coming into court to testify. DDA Abrate felt that the People would not get a fair trial if the defense expert witness did not attend in person.
The DDA argued that the jury would not feel the impact of the testimony via Zoom. Judge David Rosenberg assured her that the court would set up a large television screen to accommodate for this issue. Judge Rosenberg felt confident that presenting the expert witness on a large television screen via Zoom would not violate the prosecution’s rights.
But Abrate also raised the issue of confronting the witness regarding prior testimony and that doing so via Zoom would become extremely time consuming—an issue that is going to be seen in many courtrooms regarding how attorney’s will be able to confront a witness.
Judge Rosenberg reassured the DDA that the court will be able to figure out how the People will be able to confront the defense expert on cross. Judge Rosenberg made a comment about using Zoom and how it is the new normal. Judge Rosenberg once again affirmed that the court will find a way to make it work.
During this hearing, the court did not come up with a solution to all the issues that were presented, but Judge Rosenberg felt confident that they would find a way prior to trial to ensure that the People, as well as defendants, get a fair trial.
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