Home Ch: 8 - Using Multimedia in Legal Proceedings Courtroom Technology Considerations
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Using Multimedia in Legal Proceedings

Courtroom Technology Considerations

Computer Integrated Courtroom (CIC)

The CIC courtroom should be designed to provide "paperless" trials and insure the efficient and effective handling of evidentiary materials and testimony as well as meet judicial administrative needs. As the attached judicial function chart indicates, the computer integrated courtroom should not only make available to the judge his case notebook, but should also integrate and be connected to minute entries, juror instructions, docketing, testimony of witnesses, paperless trials, and so forth.

Two teaching CIC facilities are the Courtroom of the Future and Courtroom 21.

The “Courtroom of the Future” project located at the University of Arizona Law School is designed as a “working low cost technology courtroom”. The project supports empirical studies of the use of technology upon jurors. Not only used as a teaching facility for law students, the courtroom has been visited by court personnel and legal practitioners from across the country to learn how to effectively use low cost technology in courtrooms. Professor Winton Woods, head of the project, frequently consults with federal and state courts from across the country to determine the best technical layout for CIC courtrooms.

Courtroom 21, located in Williamsburg, Va., is the world’s most technologically advanced courtroom. It was designed to demonstrate how advanced technologies could help courts. The courtroom is frequently updated with new hardware and software to determine its effectiveness in the administration of justice. (www.courtroom21.net/index.html).


The benefits from a CIC are:

  1. Significant reduction in the number of days in trial - Early comments from a number of the top litigators and judges around the country indicate that the ability to try a "paperless" case provides significant cost savings. Litigators and judges estimate that 20% to 50% of trial time is saved in having the ability to view and display documents to the jury, judge, witnesses and parties through computer monitors in the courtroom. This eliminates many of the problems with trials, such as locating, transferring, and reading of exhibits to the interested parties in a lawsuit. With monitors strategically placed in the courtroom, this is done instantaneously and provides all interested persons the ability to view the documents immediately.
  2. Compliance with the American Disability Act Using Real-time Transcription - Real-time transcription of testimony is the ability to transcribe the witnesses’ testimony instantaneously into written form for viewing on a computer monitor. Litigants or other parties having hearing problems would be able to review the testimony in "real-time", and thus comply with ADA mandates.
  3. Judicial Efficiency - A CIC contributes to the efficient handling and organization of the case via the judge's case notebook, minute entries, docket, juror instructions, and access to judicial caseload.
  4. Connectivity - Connectivity to outside judicial, legal and factual information sources increases the efficiency and productivity of the trials. The connectivity of the courtroom to outside law firms and other legal and factual information sources would enhance the efficiency and communication of the parties. For example, if a litigant or judge desired to research a particular point of law, then they could go on-line and locate the information. In addition, since most of the information of a legal or factual nature is being reproduced on CD-ROM, the availability of CD-ROM readers in the courtroom for the litigants in the court will provide instantaneous assess to legal cases, statutes, and case materials.
  5. Enhance Jury Understanding - Trial presentation systems will enhance the abilities of the litigants to present their case in an easy to understand manner for the trier of fact by displaying exhibits, video, documents and audio.

One of the critical questions as we proceed down the path to automating litigation is the level of computerization in the court in which you will be trying your case and the judge’s support of this technology. Some courts, such as like The Honorable Roger Strand’s CIC in the Federal District Court of Arizona, are fully automated and support “paperless” trials. Others may not be so receptive of the technology and may not want their courtroom turned into a technology courtroom.


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