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Remote court is in session. Can defendants get a fair trial? – Source

For a long time, Judge Michael Christofeno just didn’t see a place for online hearings in his courtroom.

“I needed to see people in person in my courtroom or I wasn’t going to be able to have the capability to get a sense of how they’re testifying, their demeanor, whether they’re telling the truth or not, whether they’re being candid with the court,” says Christofeno, a circuit court judge in Elkhart County, Indiana. He was also concerned about operating and maintaining control of hearings in an unfamiliar medium.

But the judge’s opinion changed when the county looked to reopen courts that had been largely shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been a problem across the country. The New York Times recently reported that criminally accused people have been languishing in New York jails, in some cases contracting the virus, while only a handful of trials have taken place during the pandemic. Even participants in civil cases had been left anxiously awaiting their…

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