June 2013 Bar Bulletin
 
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From the Desk of the Presiding Judge

The Courtroom of the Future Is Here

By Judge Richard McDermott

 

Ihave several topics this month to discuss, but the first is to proudly announce that the courtroom of the future is now at the King County Courthouse.

Courtroom E-854 in the King County Courthouse has been outfitted with state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment, a wide-screen projector, high-definition cameras, a smart board, computers for each counsel, electronic signature pads, microphones, and surround-sound speakers. This technology will make it possible to display evidence electronically on a large screen, offering a more meaningful representation of evidence for jurors. It will also allow for witness testimony and interpreter assistance from remote locations - even from the other side of the world.

In addition, the courtroom can be used as an "overflow" room to be electronically connected to another courtroom to allow more members of the public to watch a proceeding in a high-profile case. The possibilities are endless. King County T.V. prepared a video demonstrating the functionality of our new courtroom and I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to view it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aozad0Qunhg.

Development of the "eCourtroom" was a collaborative effort involving all branches of King County government. The King County Council, and in particular Councilmember Kathy Lambert, got the ball rolling with a budget proviso promoting the use of video equipment in the justice system. Funding was provided by a federal grant secured by the King County Executive's Office. A workgroup convened by the County's budget office reviewed 12 possible projects and selected this one for funding.

All the while the court was strongly proposing this project as a way to benefit anyone who tried a case and desired or was required to use some form of technology. To say that we are excited by the end product is a gross understatement - we are elated and believe that you will be, too.

The project team guiding implementation included representatives from Superior Court, the Department of Judicial Administration, King County District Court, the Prosecuting Attorney's Office, the Office of Public Defense, the defender agencies, King County Facilities Management Division and King County IT. The King County Courthouse is an old building built for another era and as such it offered many challenges that had to be overcome to create this eCourtroom. Without the efforts of all participants, the project would have failed.


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