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The availability of courtroom technology for cases small and large has come of age. At the ABA TechShow 2001 this week in Chicago, the University of Arizona Courtroom of the Future Project will offer a hands-on demonstration of the various tools now offered in the new eCourts. We have adopted the theme “The Courtroom as a Classroom” to reflect the reality that our goal as trial lawyers is basically an educational mission. In the coming months and years trial lawyers in every state will have an opportunity to use these new courtrooms whether they initiate their use or not. If they don’t use electronic support, their opponents will — often to their clients’ shock and surprise. Many lawyers have waited a decade for the arrival of this new day. Now it is here. COURTROOM EQUIPMENT The typical electronically integrated courtrooms feature large, high-resolution LCD monitors at counsel table, the jury box, the witness stand, the courtroom deputy’s and court reporter stations and, of course, the bench. Most of the courtrooms allow images to be projected onto a large electrically controlled screen from a high-resolution projector as well. Inputs are made from laptop computers at the counsel tables or from a central podium. Inputs may also come from any of a variety of media such as VCRs, DVD players, Laser Disk players, etc. The Boeckeler Pointmaker allows any evidence viewed on the monitors to be electronically annotated to focus the attention of judge and jury to an exact point in the document. Typically, the judge or the courtroom deputy has a touch-control screen at her station that allows her to distribute the signal from each counsel table to the monitor system. She also has the capability to select documents to be viewed for foundation before they are published to the jury. The monitors have very high resolution that makes it easy to read documents and view video and other types of media. In the center of the courtroom facing the bench is a console containing a document camera (also known as a video presenter) and a Boeckler Pointmaker video annotation device. Paper documents can be displayed at any of the selected viewing locations using the video presenter. Annotation of those documents can be done with an ordinary highlighter or pencil on the original document, or by using a finger on the touch-screen LCD panel. Three-dimensional objects can also be effectively displayed using the video presenter, which is really just a high-resolution video camera mounted like an overhead projector. The court reporter’s real-time output can be delivered to a laptop computer at counsel table. The feed provides a basis for attorney notation on the transcript that is captured by a variety of software programs. CASE PREPARATION IN THE ECOURTROOMS Lawyers need not do anything different to try a case in an eCourtroom. The video presenter is easy to use and requires no technology skills. You simply place a document or object under the camera and it is displayed through the monitor system. It is amazing to observe the ease with which lawyers who claim to abhor technology find themselves comfortable with and effectively using the document presenter. One big advantage is that actual publication to the jury occurs at the same time the judge and lawyers are viewing the admitted document. Any lawyer who uses one will quickly become very comfortable using the evidence presenters. Of course, lawyers may still want to use trial boards and other kinds of demonstrative evidence and there is nothing in the eCourtrooms to prevent or impair their use. Indeed, the effective supplementation of the digital images will become one of the key elements of litigation planning. You may want to do much more, however. For example, a lawyer can put all documents on a computer hard drive in the form of digital image files. Those files can be retrieved using simple basic software built into the Windows platform or more sophisticated trial presentation programs like Visionary, Sanction or Trial Director. Use of modern OCR technology allows for full text search over the scanned document database. Scanning of documents can be done in your office using modestly priced office scanners, but litigation support vendors will Bates-stamp, scan and code documents. The scanned documents can then be put into a variety of databases that will allow you to search and sort them. ABA TechShow attendees will have the opportunity to experience hands-on contact with the basic courtroom technology kiosks: document imaging, animations, using PowerPoint, using trial presentation software, building and using barcode access information, real-time court reporting, using presentation equipment in the law office and the electronically integrated courtroom itself. In addition, we will host several programs during the three days of the TechShow. You can find the schedule of events for the Courtroom of the Future project at http://www.techshow.com/courtroom.html Professor Winton Woods is the director of the Courtroom of the Future Project at the University of Arizona. In his private capacity he is also General Counsel and Director of Education for Lex Solutio Corporation, a national litigation support firm based in Phoenix.

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