Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

High Tech Courtrooms: A Miracle or a Mess?

courthouseI have seen the Courtroom of the Future and come away conflicted.

An experimental, state-of-the-art  courtroom in Louisville, Kentucky was featured in the July issue of ABA Law Technology Today.

It has bells and whistles like you would not believe. Laptops and flat screens. Audio and animation. It can turn your closing argument into a presentation worthy of Pixar.

Among the shiny toys in this high-tech hall of justice:

  • An AV system that lets lawyers plug in practically any device with a video or audio signal output.
  • A pair of huge projection screens and a 55” portable flat-screen monitor.
  • The ability to display different content simultaneously – for example, a time line on one screen and illustrative video clips on another – both of which are perfectly synchronized.
  • A touch-screen-telestrator that can turn the average litigator into Anchorman.
  • An independent audio system for playing sound files.

This is from the ABA Law Technology Today:

“A recent murder trial demonstrated the flexibility of the pilot system. The prosecution used a document camera to display a diagram of the crime scene on one screen. Photographs of the physical evidence identified on the diagram were shown on the second screen from a laptop. The defense utilized the touch-screen technology with a witness illustrating the distances between pieces of evidence on the crime scene photographs. The system allowed the diagrams and photographs displayed on the projection screens to be captured in the court record.”

The project was financed by the Louisville Bar Association, which got input from local attorneys on the room’s features and design. Eventually the bar will upgrade all nine courtrooms in the Jefferson Circuit Courthouse, at an estimated cost of $50,000-$75,000 each.

Kentucky lawyers can even take a training program on how to use the courtroom and earn an hour of CLE credit.

Your Turn, Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg County lawyer Brian Focht – who writes the informative and engaging blog The Cyber Advocate – loves the Louisville courtroom. He challenges his colleagues to step up to the plate:

“Ok, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, they’ve thrown down the gauntlet,” he writes in a recent post. “If Kentucky can do it, so can we!”

But color me old school. Oh sure, the courtroom is fancy. I oohed and aahed on cue. And I get the point: jurors of today are used to receiving instant information from the latest technology. So let’s give them what they want.

But there is no flat screen in the world that will make me a more passionate advocate. And while I’m sure a juror might be wowed by a telestrator, isn’t what I’m telestrating just as important?

The key to trial advocacy is communication. Any tool that improves communication is a good thing. But any gadget that gets in the way is bad.

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He still has a rotary phone. Contact, phone 919-619-2441.

For more information:

The Cyber Advocate

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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