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How to Look Good (and Innocent) in Zoom Court

From ring lights to green screens, here are easy ways to make a good first impression—and avoid ending up on r/ZoomCourt.
Ian Burke
Brooklyn, US
help our man bun

Put down your phone. (It was Katie from the dealer service center with an urgent message regarding your car’s warranty, anyway.) It’s time for Zoom court. No, it’s not the sister show to Divorce Court or Judge Judy. It’s just regular court, but on Zoom.

“One of the many unforeseen consequences of COVID-19 is that many courts are now holding their hearings over Zoom,” Gita Jackson reported for VICE. “These hearings are all recorded and often streamed in public, creating a new engine for internet virality whenever something funny or unexpected happens. It has become such a common event, there's a new subreddit dedicated to Zoom Court, which now has over 12,000 subscribers.” 

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Though we feel for the people that get hosed by brutal Zoom gaffes, we can’t lie—they’re pretty hilarious. Perhaps you’d be interested in watching an Ohio State Senator use a Zoom background of his home office while obviously driving—mere weeks after a distracted driving bill was introduced in Ohio? Or, maybe you’ve heard of the “I am not a cat” lawyer, or the dude who forgot to check his Zoom screen name before hopping into Zoom court as “BUTTFUCKER 3000"?

If you find yourself in the position of having to attend Zoom court yourself, first of all, LOL—that sucks. We're sorry. Think of it this way: It still beats having to show up IRL and go through metal detectors and all that. Secondly, we're here to help. Here's everything you need to have a successful virtual court case where you look like a professional, responsible adult who definitely deserves to have their charges dropped. 

Give the judge some space 

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One of the worst parts about the advent of the webcam is the flat, zoomed-in image of your face that it produces. You’re probably familiar with seeing yourself on the screen and thinking, is my head really that big? Or, if your computer isn’t on a desk at the correct height (we see you, couch-workers), you’ll get the dreaded under- or over-angle [shudders]. Enter: the clip-on, wide angle lens. Thanks to some research conducted by one of our own, this cheap and easy webcam hack makes it appear like you’re a few steps back from your computer, which is a nice reprieve from having your eyeballs pressed against the screen for optimal doom-scrolling. Think of it like a restraining order for your face.

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Xenvo Pro Lens Kit, $44.99 at Amazon

Illuminate your innocent face

ring light

Convince the virtual jury that you don’t watch TikToks in the dark all day with a clip-on ring light for your computer. You’ll look more lively, less hungover, and ready to plead insanity innocent. (Plus, your skin will ~pop~.) Zooming on your phone? No problem.

Computer Ring Light with Clip, $18.27 at Walmart

You forgot to put your bong away 

green screen

Your room is a disaster. We get it. Instead of throwing your comforter over all of the stuff you hastily moved from your things-chair to your unmade bed, just leave your disgusting nest as-is and invest in a green screen. Then you can set your Zoom background to whatever you think will help your cause: rehab, the library, a slightly less messy room, whatever. 

GoDecor Photography 10ft Backdrop Stand Kit, $46.99 at Walmart

Chair the love

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If you’re trying to convince the judge that you’re an upstanding citizen, the first thing you need to do is sit down—in a comfy, elegant gaming chair. This sleek and simple model by Inbox Zero is an excellent choice for your big day in Zoom court, since a lot of the proceedings take a looong time. We’re talking hours, which is why the integrated steel frame technology, padded armrests, and 360° swivel are going to come in handy.

High-Level Office Gaming Chair, $95.99 at Wayfair

Put a suit on, for chrissake 

person in blazer

“You need to look presentable in court” is one thing your boomer parents are absolutely right about. “You should stop by the office of that company you like to drop off your resume in person during the tail end of a pandemic,” not so much. This dope blazer from SSENSE screams “I didn’t double park in front of a hydrant, your honor.” (SSENSE has a lot of other sweet stuff, too, and it’s on sale.)

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Diesel Black J-Rey Jacket, $266 at SSENSE 

For the (allegedly) sophisticated criminal 

blue light glasses

For those of you who don’t wear glasses and stare at screens all day, stylish blue light blockers might be the answer to getting a good night’s sleep before your day in virtual court. Though some doctors are iffy on the efficacy, anecdotal evidence from a lot of happy customers begs to differ. (In other words, the jury’s still out.) But who cares? If they work, great, if they don’t, you’ll still look smart, established, and a little less guilty in front of a judge.  

Quay CEO Blue Light Glasses, $55 at Quay

For your post-court podcast

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“Look your honor, I did it. Just fine me and let’s get on with things—I’ve got a podcast to record.” Nah, we don’t really suggest that be your opening (and probably closing) argument, but we do suggest you have a professional-looking microphone in frame in case that’s the best you've got. Besides being great for annunciating the judge’s last name, this USB microphone from Blue Yeti is perfect for podcasts, streaming sessions, and re-recording your hypebeast dad’s midlife mixtape. 

Blue Yeti Nano Professional Condenser USB Microphone, $99.99 at Walmart

Don’t indict me, I have plants to feed

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Zoom court is not the place for the high road—it’s time to play that sympathy card. Perhaps the judge will be lenient now that they think you’re a plant parent. Maybe you need them to (perhaps erroneously) believe that you’re a nurturing, caring person. Maybe you just need a splash of life in your room. At any rate, this fake version of a fiddle leaf fig is lifelike enough to do the trick. 

6 Foot Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, $179.99 at Cost Plus World Market 

Know your Zoom court rights (and wrongs).


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