Virtual Hearings FAQs

Virtual Hearings: Frequently Asked Questions

For the health and safety of the public and court staff, the Magistrate Court is operating remotely. The Magistrate Court hears Criminal, Civil, and Ordinance matters virtually each day.

A virtual hearing is one where the judge, court staff, and the parties do not come into the courthouse. Instead, a hearing is held using an online platform in order to keep everyone safe. All the rules at an in-person hearing still apply to virtual hearings. Normal courtroom decorum rules still apply.

DeKalb County Magistrate Court uses ZOOM for virtual hearings. You will receive an email and/or letter regarding the date, time, and password for your hearing.

The login information should not be shared with anyone other than the participants appearing in the court hearing, unless the court approves otherwise. The public may watch Court proceedings on DeKalb County Magistrate Court’s YouTube channel.

If you do not have internet access, you can connect to the Zoom hearing via telephone. If you must call in via telephone, you are required to call the Clerk at the phone number listed on your hearing notice at least two days in advance to make arrangements. The judge will determine next steps.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you are not currently permitted to appear in-person at the courthouse. If you appear in-person to the courthouse, you will not be allowed access to the courtroom.

If you do not have access to a phone, please contact the Clerk immediately at the phone number listed on your hearing notice. Your case may be postponed until everyone can safely participate.

Please click on Tips for Preparing and Participating in a Virtual Court Proceeding in the DeKalb County Magistrate Court

Remember, even though your hearing is happening over the phone or through the internet, it is a court proceeding. You should act the way you would if you were in the courtroom in person. Normal courtroom decorum rules apply. Please speak slowly and do not interrupt anyone else when they are speaking. You will be given an opportunity to speak.

Please do not do other things while on the call. Just like in an actual courtroom, you must give your undivided attention to the proceedings. If you fail to do so, you may miss something that is said or something the judge asks you to do.

The judge conducts the hearing. The parties should speak directly to the judge, not to each other.

Proceedings that are publicly accessible will continue to be publicly accessible. The hearings will be broadcast on the Court’s YouTube channels.

Maybe. Magistrate Court is handling the oldest cases first. Unfortunately, there is a large backlog of cases due to the COVID19 pandemic. Additionally, due to the complexities of certain cases, it is more appropriate to have an in-person hearing. Before any virtual hearing, the Court will notify all parties to ensure that everyone can participate remotely.

Do not ignore the virtual hearing. If you cannot attend the hearing or have a conflict, notify the Clerk immediately. Failure to attend a hearing may result in an adverse decision by the judge. If you have issues connecting to the hearing, call the number listed in your hearing notice.

After your hearing, the clerk enters any order issued by the judge into the Odyssey system for civil matters. All parties can log onto in order to retrieve a copy of an order entered in the case.

Orders from Ordinance Court or Criminal Court matters can be requested from the Clerk.

For updates and information on the re-opening of the courthouse, please return to the main page.

Tips for Virtual Hearings

Tips for Preparing and Participating in a Virtual Court Proceeding in the DeKalb County Magistrate Court

Be Prepared

Make sure the battery is charged in the device you plan to use. Have a charger readily available.

Have sufficient Wi-Fi connectivity or enough data if using your mobile carrier.

Keep the phone dial-in information close by in case you experience unforeseen technical difficulties.

Remember this is an official court hearing. Please dress appropriately.

Position the camera at eye level so others can see you clearly.

Be in a quiet area with minimal background noise.

Check the lighting. Light from a window behind you might blind the camera, making you look dark. Light above you in the center of a room might also cast shadows. Ideally, position a lamp, or sit facing a window, where light is directly on your face.

Using Zoom

You should practice Zoom Meeting functions, and familiarize yourself with your internet, video, and audio capabilities prior to the hearing.

In order to make your experience easier, you may create a free account and download the ZOOM application ( onto your cell phone and/or computer. A ZOOM account is free. This is not a requirement but will improve your video experience. Your cellphone camera or the camera on your computer is required to participate in the hearing. You will also need internet connectivity to participate in the hearing.

Zoom has resources that may also be helpful as you prepare. To prepare to join a court hearing, you may want to watch this video:

We also encourage participants to download the Zoom Application on either your computer or your mobile phone at least two days in advance. Please test the use of the Zoom before the hearing. You can test your equipment here:

ZOOM on your phone

Install the Zoom app from your device’s app store. If you have a Zoom account, you can use it to join the remote hearing. Having an account is not required to appear at the court hearing. Make sure you keep the app up to date.

  1. Open the app and click the link in the emailed hearing information provided by the court.
  2. If that does not work, or if you received a paper hearing notice, click Join a Meeting.
  3. Then enter the Meeting ID provided by the court.
  4. Enter your first and last name. If representing a party, include your role, for example, Joan Smith, attorney for defendant.
  5. Click Join and the hearing will launch.
  6. If prompted, enter the Meeting Password, which is available in the hearing information from the court.
  7. Click Join Meeting and your hearing will begin.

For further assistance see:
For an iPhone:
For an Android:

ZOOM on a computer

You can test your internet connection, including the ability to connect to Zoom video and audio, before your hearing at

  1. From an emailed hearing notice, click the hearing link provided by the court and Zoom will launch automatically.
  2. If that does not work, or if you received a paper hearing notice from the court, type in your browser’s address bar.
  3. Enter the Meeting ID provided by the court.
  4. If prompted, enter the Meeting Password.
  5. Once in the hearing, you can update your name by clicking the Participants icon on the bottom of your screen. On the right panel, hover over your name, click More and then select Rename to update your name. If you are representing a party, include your role, for example, Joan Smith, attorney for defendant.
  6. Click the Join Audio icon in the lower left-hand corner of your screen.
  7. Click the Share Video icon.

For further assistance see:

What to Expect

When you join a Virtual Courtroom, you will wait for your case to be called while in a virtual waiting room. There may be several cases set on the docket at that time. When your case is called, the court will bring you into the Virtual Courtroom.

When you enter the Virtual Courtroom, your video will automatically be on and your audio muted. Please remain muted unless you are speaking and unmute your microphone before you speak. On a computer you will see a microphone on the bottom left of the screen. It will have a red line through it when you are muted. Below, the microphone is muted:

Remember to speak one at a time, and to pause prior to speaking in case there is any audio/video lag. Be sure to announce yourself before you begin speaking.

Screen Name

Your screen name should reflect your title and legal name. Include your office if it will help identify you. You may customize your name a number of ways:

  1. From the Virtual Courtroom, click on the “Participants” icon at the bottom of the window. A Participants window will appear. Hover the mouse over your name until you see “More”. Click “More”. Click the “Rename” button. Enter your new name in the “New Screen Name”. After clicking the blue “OK” button, your new name will appear.
  2. On a smartphone, launch the Zoom app and select “Participants” at the bottom of the screen. Tap on your current name to open the editing menu, then choose Rename. Enter your new name in the “New Screen Name”. After clicking the blue “OK” button, your new name will appear.
  3. If you have a Zoom account, you can customize your user profile, including your Screen Name preferences.


You are responsible for ensuring your witness(es) have the information necessary to appear.

Witnesses should plan to appear on video. Witnesses will be called as in any case, and the court will bring them in one at a time from the waiting room.

Witnesses are only permitted in the Virtual Courtroom while they are testifying. Those testifying are not to hold notes or paperwork while testifying, just as though s/he were on the witness stand.

Witnesses may be asked to answer questions posed by the Court, the Plaintiff/Petitioner, and/or the Defendant/Respondent.

Once a witness is done testifying, the witness will leave the Virtual Courtroom and should not talk to anyone about his or her testimony until after the conclusion of the hearing.


Exhibits, pictures, documents or anything the judge would need to review at the virtual hearing must be sent to the email address provided on your court notice preferably 7 days, but no less than 24 hours, in advance of the virtual court appearance.

Please send all Exhibits in one email. You must include your case number in the subject line of your email; and name each document or picture as follows: P1, P2, P3 etc. (if you are the Plaintiff with a short description such as “P1 Lease”) or D1, D2, D3 etc. (if you are the Defendant with a short description such as “D1 Picture damage to car”).

Recording the Hearing

Per O.C.G.A. § 15-1-10.1, no one is to record these proceedings unless you have prior approval of the presiding Judge.

Any unauthorized recording is not official and shall not serve as a transcript for appeal purposes.

The Court may record the hearing via Zoom solely for internal purposes. The Magistrate Court is not a court of record. This is not an official recording nor a transcript for use in an appeal of any kind. Any request for the Court’s recording will be denied.


You can request an interpreter for your case. Please give the clerk at least 72 hours notice of the need for an interpreter.

Legal Waiver

The following “Questions and Answers” are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. DeKalb County State and Magistrate Clerks do not practice law, and the employees of State and Magistrate Courts cannot act as your attorney. The State and Magistrate Clerks cannot provide legal advice and are not permitted to engage in the practice of law. The Clerk’s Office is prohibited from providing any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.

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