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Kent Walker, Justice of the Peace of Hardin County, Texas, may live out in the boondocks, but don’t mistake this small-town justice for a hick. Walker has set up one of the first cybercourts in the nation. At arraignments, inmates at the Hardin County Jail step before a Web cam in the jail, which is linked to Walker’s office. Walker got the idea when he was downloading upgrades for Windows 98 and noticed the “net-meeting” function. “Me and the jail captain tinkered around with it until we got it right,” he says. Walker received a call from Osler McCarthy, of the Texas Supreme Court, who wanted to know exactly what was going on. Walker explained that he felt the procedure was valid because arraignments can be held via closed circuit television. McCarthy concluded the application was neither right nor wrong because “closed-circuit television” has never been fully defined as either inclusionary or exclusionary by the state, so Walker’s Web cam passes muster. “I never dreamed there’d be all this hoopla; I’m just a simple judge,” he says. “I just kinda did this on my own because I thought it would be good for the county.”

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