Courts Should Join Information Age
Modern electronic technologies such as television, the Internet, DVDs, and CDs are used for analysis and review in many professions, but the court system steadfastly refuses to allow the widespread use of such technologies even though these technologies would greatly enhance the effectiveness of the U.S. justice system, writes retired circuit Judge Joseph Baker.
The court system continues to depend on written transcripts of witnesses’ depositions when audio-visual recordings obviously offer a far superior record. Cameras, microphones, digital records, and instant and permanent replay all offer advantages over written transcripts, Baker attests.
These technologies accurately record the voice, behaviors, manners, expressions, tones, and silences of witness depositions, whereas written transcriptions provide mere words without context. Through the use of video and other modern technologies, trials could actually be held outside the courtroom–by videoconferencing, for instance–and witnesses could describe events at the locations that they actually occurred.
Baker notes that using technology in this way would enhance the quest for truth, but judges and lawyers seem intent on keeping trials confined to the courthouse because they view such technologies as a threat.
Courts have used written transcripts to police the testimony of witnesses, but Baker argues that video and audio technology could actually strengthen this policing.
Written transcripts of a weeklong trial can cost $10,000 and take months to create, whereas video and audio recordings can be made available immediately and at a cost of only a few dollars.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Orlando Sentinel (12/19/04) P. G1; Baker, Joseph .