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Importance of Technology in the Courtroom

During my lifetime, 1994 – present, there have been many changes in the way people live life. From stopping over someone’s house just to say hi to having thousands of “friends” that can stay updated on each other’s lives by simply scrolling through a news feed. The development of technology enhanced products changes everyday life in many ways: education, shopping, entertainment, communication, employment opportunity, and the court system. Although there are some detriments in implementing technological techniques in the court room, they are greatly outweighed by the benefits.

Fortunately, technology is usually better understood by my generation. However, for many already working in the court system before the integration of technologically advanced systems, it can be quite a challenge. Switching from type writers to computers and e-filing rather than having to run down to the court house– it’s a lot to learn. Say for example an attorney needs to file a motion by 3:00 p.m.; they write the motion, electronically sign it, and press the button to submit on the court electronic filing system. It doesn’t work. That client, or the government, could miss out and the attorney could develop a poor reputation or even have sanctions imposed. Say a document is redacted and certain personal information is taken out, or snarky comments from a coworker are omitted; then, the document is filed without being scrubbed of it’s metadata. The adverse party or judge (if state rules allow) could gain access to that information. There are a variety of situations that could arise negatively affecting the practice of law.

As mentioned above, however, the benefits of incorporating technological advances into the courtroom greatly outweigh any detriments. Nowadays court reports can fix hings in a hurry, using a backspace key, instead of rearranging paper and using whiteout. The judge can now play “white noise” while the attorneys are having a sidebar, prohibiting the jury from hearing information that could sway there decision one way or another. Witnesses can testify by teleconference rather than having to travel far distances while still being seen and heard first-hand by the jury. Webcams/screens can also allow the court to leave a dangerous inmate in another location while still being present for necessary hearings. There are an unlimited number of benefits.

Personally, I have seen many of these in action. This summer I interned at a Prosecutor’s Office in Northern Kentucky. A few different times for the preliminary hearings, instead of dragging all of the inmates to the court house, monitoring them while they sat in the courtroom, and putting each one in cuffs, there was a monitor and webcam set up at the detention center. This allowed every defendant to be heard and seen by the judge and his attorney, as well as allowing the defendant to see the prosecutor and their own attorney. The most incredible use of technology I have seen was in undergrad, during an internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. There was a Criminal Sexual COnduct (CSC) case with a minor victim. That victim was very scared of the perpetrator and embarrassed to admit what had happened in front of family. Thanks to technology she was able to testify upstairs in a different, empty, courtroom while the courtroom watched on a monitor in the actual courtroom.

-Alyssa Miller