Thoughts on Optimizing Time & Attention in Virtual Trials

4 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2020 Last revised: 27 Jul 2020

See all articles by Michael Shammas

Michael Shammas

Tulane University School of Law; Duke University; The Civil Jury Project; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; U.S. District Court for the District of Maine; Harvard Law School

Date Written: July 8, 2020


I’ve previously examined the logistical difficulties affecting virtual trials and hearings. Two as-yet unexamined aspects involve technology’s impact on:

(1) judicial time management and,

(2) juror and attorney attention.

These questions, however, could not be more important, especially in the case of crucial monologues like a judge’s reading of jury instructions (the focus of this essay).

Given the brain’s tendency to wander, what about their usual style should judges alter when conducting trials and hearings over platforms like Zoom? How can judges account for the differences between online and physical interaction?

Keywords: coronavirus, virtual trials, online trials, civil jury project, pomodoro method, zoom fatigue, online hearings, virtual hearings, legal procedure, jury instructions, professional responsibility, neuroscience, legal psychology, political psychology, judicial time management, attention span

Suggested Citation

Shammas, Michael, Thoughts on Optimizing Time & Attention in Virtual Trials (July 8, 2020). NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 20-39, Available at SSRN: or

Michael Shammas (Contact Author)

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