Appellate Insights

Aug 11, 2020 Alana H. Rotter
Ready For Your Close-Up?

As more courts switch from phone arguments to video arguments, it’s increasingly important to think through the physical layout of the space you’ll be arguing from.  Here are some specific pointers, beyond the basic tips we offered in April:

  • Position the camera at your eye level or slightly higher.  For integrated laptop cameras, this may require raising the laptop on a stack of books or stand.
  • Frame the shot so that approximately the top 1/3 of your body is visible, and your eyes are about 1/3 down from the top of the screen.
  • If possible, have a light source directed at your face from in front of you.  Light from above or behind you may cast shadows on your face.
  • Know where your microphone is, and test it to ensure it picks up your voice adequately.
  • Do a test run before the argument.  Some courts provide an opportunity for this; if yours doesn’t, videoconferencing with a colleague is another way to get input on your camera position, lighting, and audio.

►  The practical message:  When preparing for a video argument, spend some time on set-up to make sure the court will be able to easily see and hear you–—that will make it easier for them to focus on the content of your argument.