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Digital Evidentiary Hearings Require a Clear Record

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2022 | Firm News

On June 27, 2022 the Minnesota Court of Appeals released a precedential decision regarding digital court appearances.
In Butler v. Jakes, the District Court issued an Order for Protection protecting Petitioner, Ms. Butler, from Respondent, Mr. Jakes after holding a virtual evidentiary hearing via the Zoom platform. Respondent Mr. Jakes challenged the issuance of an Order for Protection because, among other issues, he alleged that he and his counsel lost internet access for three minutes and were unable to participate in the hearing. Mr. Jakes argued that it was a violation of his constitutional right to procedural due process.
The Court of Appeals found no infringement of Mr. Jakes’ rights because there was no record of his internet outage in the district court record. No one noted during the hearing that Mr. Jakes had a technological problem and was unable to participate in the hearing, including his attorney. Mr. Jakes also failed to correct or supplement the record of the hearing afterwards. The only assertion that Mr. Jakes was having technical issues appeared in his argument before the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals wrote “…we [cannot] determine whether the technological problem occurred, or whether and to what extend that technological problem might have affects Jakes’s procedural due-process rights as nothing in the record suggests that a technological problem occurred.”
The issues in this case could have been avoided if Respondent’s attorney created a clear record protecting the Respondent’s rights when the technological issues arose. It is essential that you have counsel who not only understands how digital hearing technology works, but also has excelled in its use. Contact Us. to discuss how our attorneys can assist you.