In cases of witness testimony in domestic abuse or for a harassment injunction, for example, in-person attendance is preferred, he said.
“Again, to be able to assess people’s credibility, demeanor in court and be able to cross examine those people for the attorneys and litigants, that really means a lot to be in person,” Dougvillo said.
Benitez-Morgan said she’s found Zoom conferencing “very beneficial.”
“It’s part of the equitable and equal access,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s easier for somebody to come and make an appearance on a Zoom call for 10 minutes and still keep their job, then lose their job at the factory … because they had to take a half day to come to court.”
Role in systemic reform
The candidates’ answers to the role of judges in reforming the criminal justice system were mixed.
Benitez-Morgan said that it depends on how such reform is defined.
“If we’re talking about changing how the law is determined, that’s not our role,” she said. “That’s the legislature. The legislature decides what that is.”
She said, however, if it involves being educated in matters, such as implicit bias, then “absolutely.”