Forced to adapt to the new reality of teleworking, the justice system has embarked on a major digital shift in recent months. Carrying out interrogations and pleading from a distance was not common until this year. But once the worries are put aside, the experience proves successful in several cases.
“I had certain apprehensions at the start, such as the fact of not perceiving the reactions and the non-verbal character of the witness. And finally, it’s going well. And the comments I hear from my colleagues are positive, ”says Me Pierre Soucy.
A lawyer well known for the pyrrhotite file in Trois-Rivières, he even sees it as a way of working more efficiently. “A virtual hearing cannot equal or replace an in-person hearing, but there is positive about working remotely,” he says. We save time and gain efficiency by avoiding multiple trips. For example, we now have access to the electronic filing of legal proceedings. ”
“I have not yet had the experience of a full videoconference trial, but I had the opportunity, among other things, to experience three days of remote interrogation,” adds Me Soucy. When we need to share information, we can share our screens. Overall, it’s conclusive. ”
On the other hand, the latter notices the virtual has its limits. “We lose spontaneity,” he says. The pace of an interrogation is more sustained in person. By videoconference, it requires a certain discipline to ensure that we do not all speak at the same time, otherwise, it is cacophonous, we do not hear anything. ”
Same story with his colleague Me François Bélisle. “In virtual, it’s less spontaneous, he also notes. We are instinctive beings, so it is certain that this cannot replace in-person hearings. The same goes for meetings with clients. Yes, it can be done remotely, but to choose, I prefer it to be in person. “
He who participated in some remote hearings recognizes, however, that the digital turn of the judicial system allows faster conclusions in some cases. “It unlocked things. When we have agreements, we can operate online now. You can send documents to the judge, sign office documents and scan them for electronic sending, ”lists Me Bélisle.
Ready for the 2e wave
If Justice had to redo its benchmarks in the spring, this is not the case for this second wave of COVID-19. Currently, even in the red zone, the legal system is hybrid, that is to say that its actors telework, but can also exercise their profession in person when conditions allow.
“Everything suggests that we will have to deal with the pandemic for several more months. For some files, it will be more difficult to be at a distance, but overall it’s an interesting turn even if there are still changes to come. It must be said that we are starting from afar at the technological level. The pandemic is forcing us to digitize ourselves more and I think everyone wins, ”concludes Me Pierre Soucy.