830 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2020
unmute themselves when it is their turn to talk. The panel chair/host must
always keep this understandable human error in mind. This avoids the
moments of panic from an inaccurate perception that a participant has mysteriously
disappeared, without warning, out of the teleconference’s already
invisible air into the stratosphere. The chair/host must remember to ask, “Are
you there? Are you muted? Mr. Legal Counsel, will you please unmute yourself?”
to promptly restore order, so everyone has an accurate perception of
the number of participants present at the teleconference.
A simple technique to assist in the smooth operation of a teleconference
hearing is for the panel chair to request, at the outset of the hearing, that all
participants briefly identify themselves before they start to speak at any
time. In one of my teleconference hearings, all eight participants (applicant,
two physicians, panel members, applicant’s legal counsel, and a witness)
were female. None of the female voices was particularly distinctive,
and given that no one could see anyone else, it was sometimes challenging
to know who was speaking if the speaker had not identified herself first.
The hearing went much more smoothly when the panel chair began to “role
model” by always taking a quick second to say, “Hi, this is Ms. Jones, the
panel chair.” Once participants began to model that quick introduction
before speaking (and they quickly did get the hang of it), it was easier to
maintain order and clarity in the proceeding.
Another basic technique for teleconferences, which should be obvious
but often needs to be emphasized by a panel chair, is to remind participants
not to speak when someone else is speaking. It is a good general rule at all
times for any hearing, but it becomes especially important when no one can
see anyone else, and the panel chair must maintain order in the hearing.
Confusion and frustration reign during a teleconference when two or more
participants are speaking at once.
One final point should be—but is not—evident to all: As a general guideline,
do not eat snacks or lunch during a teleconference hearing (quiet sipping
of beverages is fine, though). Detention review hearings often
commence at 10 a.m. and can last three to four hours, spanning lunch time.
It is unlikely a participant would eat (in front of others, who are not eating)
during an in-person hearing. So, do not feel free to do so just because no one
can see you as you participate by telephone. In teleconferences, when
“hearing by ears” is the only one of the five senses employed by participants,
there is an intimacy and immediacy to sound. Background noise
tends to be magnified during a teleconference, when it might easily be
ignored during an in-person hearing where there are so many visual and
other distractions. Traffic noise from outside a building, for example, is