Zoom-ing Around the Rules: Courts’ Treatment of Remote Trial Testimony in a Virtual World


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 43(a) states that federal courts may permit remote testimony by virtual means when they find “good cause in compelling circumstances.” Rule 45(c) limits a court’s jurisdictional reach over potential witnesses to individuals living in-state or within 100 miles of trial. Separately, these rules are not difficult to digest. What happens, though, when an individual over a thousand miles away from the physical courthouse hearing a trial is compelled to testify “at trial,” but may do so virtually from the comfort of his or her home without traveling anywhere near the 100 miles Rule 45(c) mentions? Rule 43 and Rule 45(c) both seem to govern, at least in part, but it is not clear how they operate together. Courts do not agree on an answer; some would allow this remote testimony and others would not. As remote hearings have become more common, more courts and practitioners have noticed the divide, which suggests the time is ripe for clarification. This Note surveys how courts have handled this very question and why the Federal Rules Committee should care about split between courts. It then offers suggestions for how the drafters of the Federal Rules may best amend these two rules to achieve better predictability and uniformity.


Stanford University Stanford, California
  • Mary Margaret Chalk, Zoom-ing Around the Rules: Courts' Treatment of Remote Trial Testimony in a Virtual World, 27 Stan. Tech. L. Rev. 180 (2024).
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