Is the Right to In-Person Trials Enforceable?

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
August 1, 2022

Defendants are entitled to an in-person trial in criminal cases. The California Constitution says so. But the Court of Appeal now holds that, even if you are denied that right, there is nothing you can do about it.

Christopher Melcher joins Tim Kowal and Jeff Lewis to discuss People v. Whitmore (D4d3 no. G059779) 2022 WL 1284371 ___ Cal.Rptr.3d ___. The court says you have to show you were harmed by being made to appear remotely rather than in-person. But the three appellate attorneys were unable to think of any good practical ways to show the denial of such a structural right resulted in practical harm. Rather, structural rights protect the institution and public confidence as much as individual rights.

Tim’s writeup on Whitmore is here.

Watch the clip here.

This is a clip from episode 34 of the California Appellate Law Podcast. The full episode is available here.

Tim Kowal helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at, and publishes a newsletter of appellate tips for trial attorneys at His appellate practice covers all of California's appellate districts and throughout the Ninth Circuit, with appellate attorneys in offices in Orange County and Monterey County. Contact Tim at or (714) 641-1232.

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.