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Order in the e-Court!

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the judge92-gives-voice-to-witness35 dept.

The Courts 286

theodp writes "Every word spoken in the e-Courtroom where Branden Basham is on trial for his life appears immediately before the judge on a computer screen. There's a flat-screen monitor between every two seats in the jury box, a witness-box monitor with touch-screen features, and large-screen monitors for public viewing. Lawyers say e-Courtrooms help reduce trial time by making evidence display and tracking documents more efficient. 'It made the Chadrick Fulks' case three to five days shorter,' said an Assistant U.S. Attorney, referring to Basham's co-defendant, who plead guilty and was sentenced to death."

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286 comments

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I'll have (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313785)

The turkey on rye with cheddar.

Oh wait, wrong type of order.

Re:I'll have (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313794)

Can you make mine a philly? Plus a diet coke.

This is a brilliant idea (5, Funny)

michaeltoe (651785) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313793)

In fact, while we're at it, let's just put the whole thing up on a Fox News Poll... no better justice than majority!

WARNING: MODS ON CRACK! (1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313832)

Self explanatory.

GODDAMNIT I LOVE YOU FECAL TROLL MATTER! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313862)

/masturbating to printouts of Slashcode

Re:This is a brilliant idea (3, Interesting)

Ayaress (662020) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313863)

It doesn't sound very brillian to me. We already have a court reporter typing every word said in the trial into a computer shorthand. It's really the next logical step to wire that computer into monitors everybody can see.

I was on a jury (case of four teenagers breaking ~1000 mailboxes in four counties along the Dixe/Dort Highway. Biggest waste of three days in my life) a few years ago, and you'd be suprised how many times the proceedings had to be inturrupted because a lawyer, the judge, or the jury couldn't hear what was being said clearly. Every time, the court reporter had to stand up and read the last few things that were said. This would sometimes happen two to three times an hour.

Re:This is a brilliant idea (5, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314396)

I was on a jury
Biggest waste of three days in my life) a few years ago,
If you think that administering Justice is a waste of time, perhaps you do not deserve Justice.

Re:This is a brilliant idea (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313869)

You make it sound like the technology described in the article is a bad thing. But the right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by the Constitution [cornell.edu] , and giving juries a greater level of effectiveness in their ability to review evidence can only be an improvement.

Re:This is a brilliant idea (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313908)

Speedy trial is more about not creating unnecessary delays (ie keeping you in jail for years before you get a trial) rather than rushing through the actual trial itself. We could program a computer to examine the facts, throw in a bit of randomness and end up with a really quick trial, too.

Re:This is a brilliant idea (2, Informative)

Haydn Fenton (752330) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313897)

There was something on UK news today which I found as bad as this; If criminals (the news item mentioned murderers, although I think it may have applied to all court cases) plead guilty they can have a severly reduced sentence, since it will save substancial amounts of money on court cases...

And I though justice had nothing to do with money.. Boy how I was wrong.

Re:This is a brilliant idea (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314088)

It's not just time and expense, the assumption (legal fiction though it usually is) is that if you plead guilty you're taking responsibility for your actions, and therefore have already begun the rehabilitation process.

What I didn't get is how the guy in the story got death if he pleaded, but I forced myself to read the article and discovered, surprise, surprise, the story didn't get it completely right. The other guy had pled guilty to carjacking and kidnapping, but had insisted that he hadn't killed the girl.

Next step: offshoring jury service (1, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313964)

Once we're using electronics we can put the juror anywhere. Imagine having your drink driving case heard in a Muslim country :-).

Re:Next step: offshoring jury service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314000)

It wouldn't work unless they were US citizens.

Re:Next step: offshoring jury service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314011)

I wish there was a -1: Dumbass mod. You don't have the slightest idea how the system works, do you?

Mod grandparent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314086)

parent obviously doesn't understand irony

This is a brilliant idea-Mediocracy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314003)

My sig seems appropriate.

"-- James Fenimore Cooper
The tendency of democracies is, in all things, to mediocrity, since the tastes, knowledge, and principles of the majority form the tribunal of appeal."

Lawyers love this (4, Interesting)

eander315 (448340) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313803)

I wonder what they'll have to start charging to make up for the loss in billable hours?

Re:Lawyers love this (5, Interesting)

masoncooper (443243) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313851)

There's no loss. Entering the evidence into the trial presentation software takes time too. But usually this is carried out by legal assistants. Our firm uses a product called Visionary that allows us to lay out all sorts of evidence and recall it at a moments notice to present on the secondary display. The cool part is that the software is free, they make their money through processing video. When a deposition comes in, you can request a tape from the court reporting service and then send it to them, they will then encode the entire thing and sync the transcript with the video. The result is the ability to highlight a paragraph or even a sentence in the depo and press play, the secondary display then shows the playback of the person actually saying that. Seeing someone say something has a MUCH greater effect on the judge or jury than simply quoting them.

Hm (2, Insightful)

FLAGGR (800770) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313808)

I don't know if I should laugh, be sick, "tsk tsk" the story, or contemplate why the hell we really exist.

I know.. (3, Funny)

captnitro (160231) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313809)

..I'm relieved at the fact that we can get people into the chair more quickly. Texas prisons are going to have a line out the door!

(Seriously, though, the right to a fair and speedy trial should be helped by this. Not a troll.)

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313810)

GNAA

I second (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313814)

that eMotion.

My job (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313818)


I work for CVision (the closed circuit IP based system used in the article). Frankly, this type of technology has to be stopped. When we're testing the systems in new installations we're ordered to cut back on the gamma and hike up the contrast for the cameras that focus on the defendant.

The reason? To make the defendant more menacing.

Cameras focused at the witness stand are lightened up and softened somewhat to make the witness appear more likeable. It's a total joke, fortunately my contract ends in just shy of 3 months.

Technology is fine, but this is an outright abuse.

Re:My job (4, Interesting)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313854)

Who's asking you to do that?

Is it any worse than having the defendant show up with freshly cut hair, a clean shaved face, and in a suit?

Does the jury ever actually see the defendant sitting there (live - not on TV)?

Re:My job (4, Informative)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313993)

Is it any worse than having the defendant show up with freshly cut hair, a clean shaved face, and in a suit?

It is more like the defendent showing up in a suit, but then getting roughed up by the cops to look more ugly when he stands there.

Re:My job (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314028)

Does the jury ever actually see the defendant sitting there (live - not on TV)?
The jury only sees the defendant and the witnesses live and never on tv.

Re:My job (5, Interesting)

here4fun (813136) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314182)

grandparent: When we're testing the systems in new installations we're ordered to cut back on the gamma and hike up the contrast for the cameras that focus on the defendant. The reason? To make the defendant more menacing.

parent: Is it any worse than having the defendant show up with freshly cut hair, a clean shaved face, and in a suit?

Should it matter how the defendant looks? If we have a system where looks matter, then we need a new system. If someone is white and in a nice suit, should that excuse the person, where the judge thinks "oh, he made a bad mistake, i feel sorry for him", but if it is a poor black teen the judge thinks "miserable evil uneducated basturd, you deserve to suffer for being so dark".

It is like there are two legal systems, one for the rich and one for the poor. One who can afford their own private lawyer, and one who gets a public defender. Let me guess, these monitors will mostly be used with poorer people who can't afford their own attorney to assert their rights.

MOD PARENT DOWN (0, Troll)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313874)

Nice thought exercise in how such a system could be abused... but it has a glaring hole. Any time the defendant took the stand in their own defense, they'd suddenly gain the favorable witness camera as they spoke... if there was a glaring difference in the two cameras, it'd be as clear as daylight when the person moved to the better camera.

MOD LostCluster DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313893)

How dare you call for censorship. All opinions should be treated equally, even if we disagree with them. Why are you promoting muzzling of ideas you do not like instead of just allowing the marketplace of ideas to take place and letting all ideas be brought forth to the table?

Hypocrite.

MOD LOSTCLUSTER DOWN = KNOWN CHILD MOLESTOR (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313917)

How can you do that you filthy pervert? They're just innocent BOYS!

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314066)

Any time the defendant took the stand in their own defense, they'd suddenly gain the favorable witness camera as they spoke... if there was a glaring difference in the two cameras, it'd be as clear as daylight when the person moved to the better camera.

Despite what you may see on TV and movies, defendants rarely take the stand. It gives the prosecution a chance to put a lot of doubt in the mind of the jury.

Re:My job (-1, Offtopic)

siufish (814496) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313916)

Anyone likes to watch "Judge Judy"?

Re:My job (3, Informative)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313925)

There's no cameras on the defendant or the witness.
Your not only lying, you didn't even read the articles.

Re:My job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313943)

He didn't say he worked on that particular courtroom.

Each court system can decide how to implement such systems in their courts and the company simply gives them the system they want implemented.

Re:My job (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313999)

Then this is totaly off topic, because it has nothing to do with the articles.
The system they talked about is only used to present evidence and nothing to do with using cameras to record what goes on.

Re:My job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314032)

No, its on topic becuase he is talking about the systems being used in general. The thrust of the article was about how this is a releatively new concept and the poster simply wanted to bring in some perspective to it.

Its pretty pathetic and petty how people like you want to bash others for simply giving out their own ideas and then try to find all sorts of ways to justify doing so. If Slashdot is not about discussion of the issues, then what is it? Discussion that only conforms to what you want? Groupthink? What is it?

Re:My job (0, Flamebait)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314112)

The system he's talking about is not the system in the articles. The system in the articles is like a fancy overhead projector. It's nothing special at all.
I bashing him because he's trying to make this sound like some sort of government conspiracy to get convetions. And I'm still pretty sure he's lying.

Re:My job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314128)

No, you're bashing him becuase you just don't like the fact he has information you do not. Again, as I said, the thrust of the article was how this type of concept is "new" and it has always been the tradition of Slashdot (and frankly discussion in general) to talk about things conceptually and in terms of similarities and other implementations.

Yes, you admit you don't like his ideas and you want him modded down for it. Now if thats not some type of censorship, I don't know what is. Stop trying to impose your view points on everyone else. The proper thing to have done would have been to reply and disagree or to challenge him, not to demand his post be muzzled from others to see.

Pathetic.

Re:My job (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314189)

It's only information if he can back it up, his post is just a story untill he pulls out some proof.
And he said 'this type of technology has to be stopped' yet the technology he talks about has nothing to do with the technology in the article.
He also said 'Technology is fine, but this is an outright abuse.' when there is nothing abuseive about the technology in the articles.
His post is nothing more then something he probably dreamed up to grab attention.

Re:My job (1, Informative)

datawar (200705) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313937)

Parent is clearly a troll.

Re:My job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313967)

Proof? Just because you said so? The hypocrisy of people on Slashdot is baffling.. Cries of loss of free expression but they are happy to call for censorship themselves when it comes to ideas they don't like.

Re:My job (5, Informative)

nm42 (310685) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314129)

Ok, I call BS. I handle litigation technology for a law firm, and have been in many E-courtrooms. There is no camera made to focus on the defendant.
Take a look here [maricopa.gov] for a real view of the e-courtroom setups.
The cameras are voice activated, so only the person speaking will appear on the recording. Additionally, these are widely used in civil matters, so there is no "defendant" per se. And a "nice behind-the-scenes" tidbit. The hardware used to capture all of this? Tivo.

Yeah, but... (3, Funny)

fatcatman (800350) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313825)

Where's the e-judge? A non-bribable A.I. would go a long way toward achieving proper justice in this country... Bonus points if it's capable of throwing the book (literally or figuratively, I don't care which) at both clients and lawyers bringing stupid lawsuits.

Re:Yeah, but... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313859)

They tried it once, but it only threw PDFs at people.

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313889)

Yeah it was way to cruel.

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314231)

I for one would be scared of 500 megs of compressed PostScript flying at me.

Re:Yeah, but... (3, Funny)

gorre (519164) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313968)

So I can look forward to being tried by Microsoft Judge(TM)? That gives a whole new meaning to "Blue Screen of Death".

Judge Sbaitso? (4, Funny)

MC Negro (780194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313978)


Where's the e-judge?


The honorable judge Dr.Sbaitso, now presiding over the courts [everything2.com]

Lawyer 1 : Your honorable Sbaitso, a bloody glove was found in the bushes of Branden Basham's front yard. If you'll just look at exhi..

Judge Sbaitso : Yes. But why?

Lawyer 1 : The glove was found within a 50 meter perimeter of the murder. Er, uh, if you'll just look at exhi..

Judge Sbaitso : I am just a simple computer program without a math-coprocessor.

Lawyer 1 : Your honor, if you would simply look at exhibit A

Judge Sbaitso : Yes, but you could be mistaken.

Judge Sbaitso : Did you know you can change my colors?

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314330)

Sed quis custodem ipsos custodes?

Who watches the watchers, my friends?

If said AI judge runs on a Microsoft OS, with a special DoJ ``approved'' version of the AI, any guesses as to what ``justice'' will be like?

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.

Then again, it could be fun -- our judge is down because of a virus! That ruling is wrong, since AI was hacked. The client is guilty, for verdict see goatse.cx Or how about popus while you view evidence? - and now, the murder weapon! Sponsored by Budwiser - this brief's for you!

Too much fun....

death? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313834)

His accomplise pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death, the article says. I always thought that the whole point of a guilty plea was to lower the severity of the maximum sentence.

Re:death? (1)

MisterLawyer (770687) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313891)

By pleading guilty he got death by overconsumption of chocolate instead of death by lethal injection.

RTFA!

Re:death? (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313923)

His accomplise pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death, the article says. I always thought that the whole point of a guilty plea was to lower the severity of the maximum sentence.

Digging deep into my vast law experience (I have watch hundreds of episodes of L&O) - The prosecutors probably said, "No deals, we have all the evidence we need." The jury decides the fate in that state so perhaps he was hoping without all the details being laid out in graphic detail in the trial, they would spare his life. Or maybe he just 'Didn't give a fuck'.

Re:death? (0, Troll)

Mateito (746185) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313990)

Its Texas, man. All texas judges are spawn campers.

Re:death? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314022)

No it isn't- it's South Carolina. Nearly as bad, but far more green.

Re:death? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314265)

The article is wrong. He plead guilty to carjacking and kindnapping but innocent to murder.

WHAT???? (4, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313836)

referring to Basham's co-defendant, who plead guilty and was sentenced to death

Seriously, what's wrong with this guy? Why would he plead guilty without some type of consideration?

If I'm facing the death penalty, I'd at least take my chances with a trial. There's no point in pleading guilty KNOWING that the state is seeking execution.

LK

Re:WHAT???? (3, Insightful)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313966)

What if you murdered someone and believe you should face the ultimate penalty for it?

Re:WHAT???? (1)

CaptainCheese (724779) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314077)

I don't know. Ask Gary Gilmour.

Re:WHAT???? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314106)

Then he is obviously insane and hence should be transfered to a mental institude rather than recieve the death penalty.

Re:WHAT???? (1)

Jardine (398197) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314109)

What if you murdered someone and believe you should face the ultimate penalty for it?

It's my understanding that suicide is the honourable thing in that situation. Though I guess pleading guilty and being sentenced to death is a form of suicide.

Legal disclaimer: it's not my fault if you kill yourself in a situation like this. If you kill yourself, don't come and sue me afterwards.

Re:WHAT???? (1)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314215)

Kill yourself, and leave a note behind.

Re:WHAT???? (1)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314302)

I'm not religious, but many religions consider this a sin. Considering they wouldn't be alive to repent afterwards, they may prefer to have this ultimate justice meted out by their peers.

Re:WHAT???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314245)

Then I'd want life in solitary confinement.

Re:WHAT???? (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313974)

Because it takes 15-30 years to be executed, and perhaps he did do it and feels he should be punished for his crime.

Re:WHAT???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313984)

Seriously, what's wrong with this guy? Why would he plead guilty without some type of consideration?

Some defendants really *are* guilty (surprise), and realize that maybe the right thing to do is to take what they deserve.

Re:WHAT???? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314098)

You selfish shell of a man. Some people actually have remorse for crimes and believe in doing the right thing in that circumstance. You're a pathetic excuse for a human. It's no surprise you can't stay in a relationship (at least one where your S.O. is faithful) since you seem to only think about yourself in life. :P

Re:WHAT???? (1)

Bull999999 (652264) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314149)

Why would he plead guilty without some type of consideration?

At least he didn't blame the car jacking/murder on guns, parents, violent games or moives, drugs, breaking up with his ex, and/or how he was sad when he dropped his icecream as a little kid.

Re:WHAT???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314223)

Except that he did. http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtlebeachon line/news/special_packages/seeking_justice_for_ali ce_donovan/8815539.htm

Re:WHAT???? (1)

Bull999999 (652264) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314311)

First of all, the link doesn't work, and second, why the hell did he plead guilty then?

He pleade guilty to lesser charges, not the murder (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314193)

The article says he plead guilty to kidnapping but not murder.

3 to 5 days? (1, Interesting)

nbert (785663) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313843)

so it basically would have taken at least 3 days to look at the evidence in a conventional manner? Maybe I'm really missing something here, but this sounds like hype to me.

What the article summary should say: (0, Troll)

MisterLawyer (770687) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313858)

"Every word spoken in the e-Courtroom where Isaac Horowitz is on trial for his life appears immediately before the judge on a computer screen. There's a flat-screen monitor between every two seats in the jury box, a witness-box monitor with touch-screen features, and large-screen monitors for public viewing. Lawyers say e-Courtrooms help reduce trial time by making evidence display and tracking documents more efficient. 'It made the Levi Rubinowitz case three to five minutes shorter,' said an Assistant Third Reich Attorney, referring to Horowitz's co-defendant, who plead guilty and was sentenced to death."

Lawer Needed: Photoshop skills a plus (5, Insightful)

rackirlen (749169) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313870)

I really don't think I want to be judged on the skill of my lawer in photoshop and powerpoint...

Seriously, powerpoint is one of the things that NASA reports have blamed for the lack of attention to some details... I really think that the old, hash though paper way keeps the legal system more secure from tampering... (as much as it can be anyhow)

Re:Lawer Needed: Photoshop skills a plus (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314094)

It's your lawyer's job to pull the important details out of the quagmire of irrelevant junk.

If he can't do that, you are doomed anyway.

Re:Lawer Needed: Photoshop skills a plus (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314139)

Lawyers have always need a way to make nice looking exhibits. The only diffrence is now instead of giant peaces of poster board with pie charts printed on them. We have powerpoint presentations. Not much has changed, just the way it's delivered.
And on a side note. The lawyers themselves don't make the exhibits; they have people to do that for them ;)

A great help for juries (3, Insightful)

Hobobo (231526) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313872)

I don't see anyone would be up in arms about this. Keeping track of evidence and testimonies, paying attention is difficult, to say the least, for individuals with no legal training. A method of keeping track of evidence to help juries make reasoned decisions will lead to more fair trials. Additionally, resolving issues faster is in the interests of everyone involved: the defendant, the plaintiff, and the jury. The only ones who lose are lawyers who charge by the hour!

A great help for juries-A jury of our pears. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313950)

"The only ones who lose are lawyers who charge by the hour!"

They're not losing that much. The majority of their money is made outside of the courts.

Three day speed up (3, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313940)

That was when using a 2GHz CPU. Now if we used a dual 3GHz CPU with a better graphics card, the whole trial could be over in 15 seconds.

Big deal... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10313957)

A trial is becoming a more rare occurance in U.S. District courts. Most judges now use summary judgments to knock out cases before they even get to trial. It's easier, cheaper, and clears the dockets faster. Most cases are won in pre-trial motions where technology doesn't really matter.

An aside: in the rare event a case does make it to trial, the new technology doesn't change the fact that all a trial is is just two conflicting stories of the same event. The lawyer who can tell the story better, with more passion and zeal, who really, truly believes in their client's cause will always win over PowerPoint, guaranteed.

Great, to a point... (4, Insightful)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#10313965)

Technology in the courtroom is great up to the point where we are called to function without it, and find we are unable to do so. For example, imagine tryng a murder or rape case without the use of DNA evidence. The defendant may have confessed, and performed the act in front of a nun and two priests... but the jury expects expensive DNA testing, and you cannot get a convition without it.

Likewise with courtroom technology - When lawyers and jurors are over-used to the presence of touch screens and video equipment, what will they do when called to a courtroom in rural South Dakota that has barely the budget to keep the furnace running?

Also consider that, where human beings are doing the work, someone is ultimately responsible for a mistake. Court reporters and Notary Publics post bonds and can loos big money if they make a mistake. When is the last time your software vendor assumed liability for a computer crash?

Re:Great, to a point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314160)

For example, imagine tryng a murder or rape case without the use of DNA evidence.

I would imagine they woud do it much the same way they did it for the two hundred years prior to DNA testing. DNA testing is not the end-all, be all. Kobe Bryant's DNA was all over the "victim" in his case; it didn't win a conviction.

Your Rights Online, inded...(nt) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314024)

ntizzow.

phoning it in (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314053)

"Confronting your accuser" and "facing a jury of your peers" works both ways. Human communication is extremely high bandwidth, a gestalt of not only extremely high resolution sights and sounds, but also smells, odd as that might be to consider. In-person communications don't have the distracting "grids" that communications technologies impose on the experience, or other distracting problems like color curves and transmission glitches. Then there's the selection of subject of the communications: you have to look at the cropped content the recorder sends you, not at the subject's twitching foot, or your neighbor's incredulous face. And rather than face a camera to compose your message, you face another person, who's facing you.

People are not nearly sophisticated enought to ignore the noise introduced by these technologies, and to notice the edited experiences they ignore. Does "can you hear me now?" mean anything to anyone? We can barely use these technologies in a cooperative conference call, with little more than "where should we meet for lunch?" on the line. It's unconscionable that people's lives are on the line with these technologies in the mix.

Not that innovative (3, Informative)

powerline22 (515356) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314071)

To be honest, they are using technologies that have been in use in schools and many other places for a long time. It looks like most of what they are doing is letting everyone get a better look at the evidence by aiming a camera at it, and networking the court's stenographer. This kind of stuff isn't really newsworthy to me, as we've been using the same kind of technology at my high school for over four years.

However, at least they're providing a users manual for the thing. I've seen quite a few teachers waste time with technology that they don't know how to deal with, and IT people who dont feel like taking the time out to ensure that things are setup correctly in the first place.

Theatrics (5, Interesting)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314091)

I've thought for a long time that the entire case should be recorded and then shown to a jury. Both sides can present their best cases and nobody can get away with theatrics.

Atty 1: "So has your buggering of small animals caused harm to your eyesight making you an unfit witness?"

Atty 2: "Objection"

Judge: "Sustained - the jury is instructed to disregard."

Atty 1: "No further questions"

Any question/response ruled inadmissable would be deleted - no chance of influencing the jury either intentionally or by accident.

If the jury pool is tainted or unable to reach a verdict, just seat a new jury and replay the recordings.

If evidence or judge's instructions are ruled incorrect or inadmissable by a higher court just edit the recording and show it to a new jury. This also eliminates the problem of a witness who dies before a retrial.

Re:Theatrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314365)

Originally I was pretty skeptical of this implementation of the technology but if they do it the way you describe it could be a major improvement!

Somehow I doubt they do it that way though...

The case in question... (0, Flamebait)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314107)

is pretty freakin' nasty, though - I don't think the technology would have helped either side's case - it just made the case go by faster.

I think that if there was a situation where the evidence required more tactile understanding I think this system will do the case a disservice. But this particular case - man - those people were first class assholes. I'm not for the death penalty - I would prefer to hand out a sentence of life imprisonment with Bubba The Butt Bandit. Torture is so much more amusing. But I know that's a big point of contention - Suffice to say, I think these asshats are going to get something similar to what they deserve, and the technology had no bearing on the distribution of justice.

It seems they were guilty Guilty GUILTY of really bad things.

RS

Conviction overturned! (1)

rmy1 (815018) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314111)

Isn't it possible that he can appeal on the grounds that he has "never seen the judge"? There's no way for him to know that the person on the other end of a monitor was a judge, and if he didn't have a trial in a real courtroom, then he's got it on easy street.

IANAL, but I believe I'm right here. Common sense comes into play.

Re:Conviction overturned! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314251)

If you read the article, you'd find out that the monitors doesn't replace the courtroom; it helps with the display of evidence.

But who has time to read, when the prosecutor can just recap the article for you and let you come up with your own assumptions.

this is horrible. (0, Redundant)

here4fun (813136) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314122)

one of the most basic rights americans have is the right to face the accuser. the monitor, or any technology like that is one more obstical between the witness and the accused takes away that right. the accused has a right to be in the courthouse with the witness, to watch them, to see how they respond, to ask questions. there is a human element that defense lawyers have, they are expert at understanding body language. having monitors instead of people in the same room would make it easier to lie.

Killing people is evil. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314150)

I do hardware design. I'm doing my best to make sure that nothing that I do helps anyone to kill anyone else. Now it seems that even designing an LCD monitor might be making someone's death happen sooner.

Let's just be clear about this: killing people is considered WRONG out here in the "rest of the world". The U.S. is in the company of a few places like China, Saudi Arabia and the former regime in Iraq by killing people convicted of serious crimes. IT IS NOT NORMAL. Let's all boycot the United States and everything that comes out of it until they stop this unpleasant practice.

Re:Killing people is evil. (1)

Coming soon! (767296) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314272)

Moralizing for others is evil.

Re:Killing people is evil. (0)

Bull999999 (652264) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314285)

IT IS NOT NORMAL. Let's all boycot the United States and everything that comes out of it until they stop this unpleasant practice.

It's interesting how people and governments talk big but never put money where their mouth is.

Example 1: When Secretary of Defense also announced that starting this year, the U.S. European Command would begin moving most if not all of its active combat and support units from bases in Germany to others being established in Poland, The Czech Republic, Hungary and Turkey, the business and government leaders in the German states of Hesse, Rhineland and Wurttemburg, protested the loss of nearly $6 billion in revenue each year from the bases and manpower to be displaced. You'd figure the Germans would be happy to get rid of the US military off of their land, but I guess not when money is involved.

Example 2: Puerto Rican Island of Vieques was used by the Navy for bombing exercises until massive protests, including participation by Reverend Al Sharpton, Mrs. Jesse Jackson, Joan Baez, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Edward Olomos, Michael Moore and Ramsey Clark, just to name a few. Hillary Clinton, then running for the U.S. Senate in New York, chastised the U.S. Navy for not bowing to the "will of the citizens of Puerto Rico," until her husband, a week before the election, issued an executive order to phase out the facility by 2003, despite recommendations to the contrary by his own Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Naval Operations. In January, many of the protesters were back in Puerto Rico, celebrating the final bombing exercise on Vieques and waved Puerto Rican flags and placards that read "U.S. Navy, get out of Puerto Rico." On February 21, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that the U.S. Navy will close the Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station in Puerto Rico in 2004, eliminating 1200 civilian jobs as well as 700 military positions. This naval facility is estimated to put nearly $300 million annually into the local economy. The next day a stunned Governor Sila Calderon, held a news conference in San Juan, protesting the base closure as a serious blow to Commonwealth's fragile economy. The governor stated that "The people of Puerto Rico don't now or never did have an interest in closing the Vieques bombing range or the Roosevelt Roads naval base. My government is interested in both staying in Puerto Rico." When asked, Admiral Robert J. Natter, Commander-in Chief, Western Atlantic Command, said, "Without Vieques, I see no further need for the facility at Roosevelt Roads.

Example 3: France is nagging at US to do more for the world AIDS epidemic and poverty. Will France start to cut it's own social programs to increase fundings AIDS research and aid to the needy? I don't think so.

Good Lord! (2, Insightful)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314157)

Plead guilty and was sentanced to death?!?

I dunno, I tend to be very anti-death-penalty. But, when someone comes into the court room and tries to get off on a technicality, or convince the jury to reduce the charge to manslaughter, or whatnot, I think we'd be more likely to hand out a death sentance.

When someone walks in and is like, "Yes, I admit I did it", how does that work? Thank you for saving the taxpayers lots of money by not going through a trial, and thank you for being upfront and honest about your crime; now, die!

It's not punishment, it's prevention, right?

~Will

Re:Good Lord! (1)

Xeger (20906) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314295)

I tend to be anti-death penalty, but like you, I believe in judicious and application of the death penalty, with extreme discretion on the part of the judge and jury.

That having been said: if I were genuinely guilty of a crime, and I were convicted given a choice between death, and life in prison without possibility of parole -- I would choose the former. For people like me, the death penalty would be a mercy. Perhaps this man was like me.

Re:Good Lord! (1)

NCraig (773500) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314391)

From the article on Chadrick Fulks:
The jury of nine women and three men had a choice of death or life in prison for Fulks, who pleaded guilty in May to carjacking and kidnapping Alice Donovan of Galivants Ferry on Nov. 14, 2002. Fulks admitted those crimes led to Donovan's death, but he said his co-defendant Branden Basham was guilty of actually killing her...
In other words, he *did* plead innocent.

Concerns (1)

techsoldaten (309296) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314179)

I am concerned about the impact of this technology on people's ability to understand the word as it is said in a courtroom. IANAL, but something about this really bothers me.

As we all know with our email communications, the meaning of a joke is easily lost when we send it to someone without the benefit of context. I have been threatened with severe beatings from people who did not know I was kidding because they could not see my body gestures change and could not hear a difference in my inflection. There is a difference between saying something and writing it, and I worry judges and juries could give more importance to the words on the screen than the person on the stand.

While I never thought I would say what I am about to say, the great thing about court is someone has to be there saying what they believe. Sometimes the message is in the medium, and before now there was no medium in a courtroom. Judges and juries sat there and heard the evidence from people, this eCourtroom is putting a layer of transmission between court personnel and witnesses.

Just as lawyers play to the juries with courtroom theatrics so can they play to monitors and video screens, and it may be easier to mislead people without the benefit of direct interaction. I know this is considered an add-on to the witness stand, but think about it: if someone is listening to someone speak and there is a TV on, are most people's eyes really on the person speaking? It would be bad to be convicted of a crime just for not being able to play to the camera.

M

Depersonalizing the legal system ? (1)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314187)

I don't know about you, but I think there is something kind of depersonalizing about being tried in front of cameras and monitors. I would much rather think that all of the parties involved would serve the legal system much better by being in the same room. For instance, being in front of a jury, having them watch over you, being examined by a prosecutor right in front of your face while also having people in the cheap seats watching over you has a certain effect which I think brings out the defendant/witnesses true self. It's much easier talking in front of a camera then in front of a hundred or so people.

Lawyers say e-Courtrooms help reduce trial time by making evidence display and tracking documents more efficient

Maybe so, but I don't see how that couldn't be done in a courtroom with some computers and projectors. Besides, I think the legal system is one of the few places where nothing should be compromised. I think looking for shortcuts trying to make things shorter and cheaper can have pretty dangerous consequences

How long will it be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10314200)

Before we can bring in personal recorders and cameras?

"Who do you want to kill today?" (1)

dlleigh (313922) | more than 9 years ago | (#10314219)

Great advertising slogan if this system is running on windows.

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