Leading in the Courtroom
State-of-the-Art Technology Provides Top-Notch Learning
By Jeremy Bennett
With its voice-activated cameras, touch-screen monitors, smart boards and annotation software, the College of Law's new courtroom technology is shaping legal proceedings and legal education.
All of this equipment can be controlled from multiple points around the room, the main point being the podium, which houses one of the system's two “brains.” The high-tech cameras are able to follow speakers around the room by using infrared and voice-tracking technology. Smart boards and annotation software allow for digital interaction with maps, video, and evidence by both counsel and witnesses.
“The College of Law has an obligation to train students in a courtroom setting,” said John Hasko, Law Library director. “There are a number of federal and state courts that have adopted this technology. By having it here, our students will be able to go out and operate in any courtroom in the country.”
The new technology not only gives students the experience they need, but also speeds up the court process. Evidence that previously had to be passed from juror to juror can now be viewed by everyone in the room using the new, computerized display system.
Touch screens allow interactive discussion by attorneys, witnesses and judges, and upon court's approval, allow the information to be displayed to the jurors and the audience.
The courtroom was designed for three main functions: as a trial court, housing a judge, attorneys, witnesses and jurors; as an appellate court, which includes a panel of three to five judges and two parties arguing before the judges; and a lecture hall, which allows legal education to move across boundaries. As a lecture hall, presentations in the courtroom can be streamed to a nearby classroom, or an off-site facility. Likewise, as a distance learning conduit, a lecturer at an off-site facility can stream compressed video into the courtroom for an interactive discussion.
“We implemented a very intuitive system,” said Art Howard, project manager of AAtronics, the company that installed the system. “Because of the different functions of the room, the system needs to be adaptable to different needs with little difficulty to the end user.”
The lighting, sound, video and cameras for the entire room can be reprogrammed for each use with just the push of a button.
“With their technological training in the new courtroom, Idaho law students will be prepared to address the legal issues of the digital age as practitioners, and more effectively present their arguments in the courtrooms of the 21st century,” said Hasko.