In two weeks I will be attending the Court Technology Conference (CTC) in Denver, with a team from our Judicial Committee on Information Technology. There will be lots of technology on display and the vendor contacts have already begun. Without providing free advertising to any particular one, and in our decentralized court system where every vendor theoretically has to make a pitch in every county or to each judge, I will use this space to alert judges to the capabilities that I hear about. In that vein, here are two different video products I have been recently alerted to (but do not vouch for), and judges are welcome to contact me to get in contact with the vendors.
1) Video records of pre-trial proceedings, trials, and appellate arguments. Many of these records link to transcripts and other trial documents, e.g., orders, major motions, and pleadings, to create a virtual case file on-line. Video records can produce substantial benefits for both judges and lawyers. For judges, the benefits include greater ease of scheduling hearings and trials because not all lawyers or parties need to be present in the courtroom; the opportunity to watch a witness again before writing an order or opinion; and an excellent way to see how expert witnesses scheduled to testify in their cases testified in other trials. For lawyers, the advantages include the opportunity to observe the presentations of expert witnesses they’re considering using in their own trials; watch counsel examine and cross-examine witnesses on issues of interest; and learn what happened in the courtroom even when they don’t have a transcript.
Video records can also be used as powerful judicial educational tools to show good courtroom management techniques, inform judges about scientific and other complex issues, and demonstrate the effective use of video technology itself. The equipment used does not interfere with court proceedings; it typically consists of one compact, stationary video camera on a tripod, a video encoder that enables the video signal to be sent over the Internet, an audio mixer, and a device that transmits the signal. With the exception of the camera, all of the equipment can fit on a small table. It usually takes about four hours to install and test the equipment. To webcast proceedings live, a separate Internet connection can be installed in order to prevent any disturbance to the court’s Internet connection.
2) Video security technology. This system is composed of a control system software and a line of multi-megapixel IP (Internet Protocol) cameras and high definition network video recorders (NVR) that capture and preserve surveillance evidence using lossless compression. The system allows for fewer cameras to cover the same area resulting in lower costs.