Bar News - August 10, 2007
CourtCall Telephonic Appearance Saves Time, Money
By: Beverly Rorick
Several courts around the state, most recently Plymouth and Salem Family and District courts, have installed CourtCall, which allows attorneys to make telephonic appearances at non-evidentiary proceedings. Administrative Judge of the NH Family Division and the NH District Court's Edwin W. Kelly says, “CourtCall will be sending messages to attorneys whose cases are scheduled on the various dockets explaining how the system can be used and providing instructions for its use.”
Described as a “telephonic court appearance,” CourtCall allows an attorney to simulate an in-court pre-trial appearance, saving time and money for both attorney and client. “It may take awhile before its benefits are fully appreciated by the Bar, but I am convinced that as lawyers begin using it they will find it to be a tremendous time- and cost-saving resource,” continues Kelly. “We expect to install CourtCall in the Berlin and Gorham Family Division and District Courts within the next month.”
Judge John A. Korbey, Supervisory Judge of the Rockingham County Family Division and Presiding Judge of the Salem District Court, is serving as the lead judge for the CourtCall project and may be contacted with questions or for advice. Family Division Administrator Nancy Miller is responsible for the administrative aspects.
According to CourtCall’s own description, “The CourtCall Telephone Appearance Program is an organized, simple and voluntary way for lawyers to make telephonic court appearances from their offices, homes or other convenient locations in virtually any type of civil, family, probate, guardianship, and criminal non-evidentiary proceeding. Unlike current practices, neither court staff nor lawyers are required to coordinate the time or logistics of the call. With CourtCall, the telephonic appearance becomes part of the norm—not a disruption.”
Pioneered in the Probate Court by Judge John R. Maher (Ret.), CourtCall has been installed in all ten probate courts throughout the state.
“I would like to encourage lawyers to call the Registers of Probate in their counties if they want more information about the use of CourtCall,” says David King, Administrative Judge of the Probate Courts. “I recently conducted a hearing using CourtCall with a party from Arizona, while the other party was present in court. The system worked flawlessly and we were able to conduct the hearing as though the person on CourtCall were present in the courtroom.”
In New Hampshire, the equipment was installed by CourtCall at no cost to the state or to the court system; the equipment is much better than the speaker phones previously used for telephonic hearings and contributes to a clear record of the proceedings, company officials say.
How does the individual attorney use CourtCall? Upon receiving a hearing notice, an attorney will call the CourtCall number (888-882-6878) and say that he/she wants to participate in the service, naming the particular court and giving the docket number. CourtCall will then notify the court register and the attorney will receive notice confirming his telephonic appearance.
There is a charge of $55 for each CourtCall in New Hampshire. “I would also point out that the $55 fee is paid by each party [taking part], regardless of the length of the hearing; or one side can use the program while the other may choose to appear in court for the same hearing,” says Judge King.
The court itself does not receive any funds from CourtCall, but benefits in other ways, such as by saving time, since telephonic appearances tend to be shorter than in-court appearances—and because in-court traffic decreases, security costs and the cost of litigation is reduced.
For attorneys, productivity can be increased in a number of ways: they can remain at work while in the CourtCall queue—and also save travel time and expense. Billing clients for CourtCall is easy because the attorneys receive confirmation from CourtCall with case information for billing purposes.
Clients save money, too, since attorneys can eliminate travel time and expense.
Oh—and lastly, the community benefits because keeping cars off the highway reduces air pollution!
Bar News welcomes comment from attorneys who have used CourtCall. Please call or e-mail Beverly Rorick, Managing Editor, at 603-224-6942 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.