In today's world, technology reigns, and the courtroom is no exception. Various states, including Kansas and Virginia, have taken to using video conferencing during pre-court and trial proceedings. Courtrooms that use virtual communication report increased security and a decrease in costs - it keeps safety risks and transportation expenses to a minimum.
Teleconferencing Institutes New Security ProtocolVideo conferencing opens up a plethora of possibilities regarding testimony in the courtroom. In-person appearances are no longer a requirement for many pre-court proceedings and sometimes even during trial. Video conference software is mainly used for inmates deemed too much of a risk to make bail or those who can't afford it, according to Lynchburg General District Court Judge Ed Burnette in The News & Advance.
In the same article, Tim Trent, administrator for the Virginia Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, claimed virtual communication prevents escapes and injuries. The facilities he oversees contain rooms designed for video conferencing between inmates, attorneys, and judges.
Incidents have occurred where dangerous prisoners have acted out and injured court attendees, but virtual communication can prevent that. By keeping defendants out of the courtroom, officials can ensure everyone's safety.
"My thing is security: It helps protect the inmate, it help protects the public, it helps protect my staff," Trent said, according to the source. "I love it."
Telecommunication also protects minors from facing the accused in court, which would lessen the emotional strain it can normally cause, according to Kathy Armstrong, assistant director for legal services for the Kansas Department of Children and Families, as reported by The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Litigants Save Time, Money Through Video ConferencingAccording to a survey by the National Center for State Courts, states conserve funds and time through telecommunication usage in the courtroom. Pennsylvania reported savings of $31 million while Utah has spent 30 percent less on travel expenses.
Burnette also estimated that Virginia has saved thousands of dollars on costs accumulated from transporting defendants to and from court, according to The News & Advance.
"That's one of our other goals - to try to make court more affordable for litigants, to try to improve access to courts," Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Robert Fairchild explained to the Capital-Journal.
While it's best to have everyone involved in a trial attend court in person, it's not always possible. Illnesses and distance can cause problems, according to The News & Advance. Video conferencing can ensure that all parties can attend, either physically or virtually.
Bruce R. Pfaff, chairman of the Special Supreme Court Committee on E-Business, told the Illinois Bar Journal teleconferencing makes scheduling trials easier, since litigants' physical presence isn't always required.
"We would always prefer to have the witness in person, but if we have to choose between a continuance and testimony by video conference, we'll take the video conference," he explained.
While teleconferencing isn't widespread, its usage in the courtroom is increasing. It keeps those awaiting trial out of the courthouse when they're not needed, conserving time and money and increasing security.