April 17, 2020

Coincidentally Timely – New Jersey Appellate Division’s New Guidance Permitting Remote Testimony at Trial

Over the past two months, the practice of law has shifted to rely heavily on the use of technology. Communication internally, with clients and with the court is almost exclusively conducted via telephone or videoconference. But the New Jersey Court Rules do not provide clear guidance on the use of video testimony at trial — it is not expressly permitted nor is it expressly prohibited, leaving a gap in interpretation and application. Recently in Pathri v. Kakarlamath, A-4657-18T1 (App. Div. Jan. 23, 2020), the New Jersey Appellate Division picked the perfect time to get “plucky and adventury” and considered a party’s request to testify by video. The opinion clarifies that video testimony is acceptable during trial if warranted by exigent circumstances, and sets forth seven factors for courts to consider. Decided only weeks before the state underwent lockdown due to COVID-19, the court’s analysis is timely to say the least.

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