The University of Arizona Courtroom of the Future Project was begun in the Spring of 1994. During the summer substantial grants of equipment and money from a variety of sources were obtained. In the Fall of 1994 the installation of the Courtroom began. In early 1995 the development of the Law Office of the Future will compliment the Courtroom Project and provide the foundation at the College of Law for a full scale training and demonstration facility for law office and courtroom technology. Until the summer of 2001 the Courtroom functioned well, but then with the age of the equipment began to take its toll on the development of new courtroom technologies. Finally, in the fall of 2001 the infrastructure of the courtroom failed.
Fortunately for us our friends at
Boeckeler Instruments came through again and donated the equipment necessary to
bring it back to state of the art status. With the addition of a new projector
and the soon to be added integrated podium from Mediatech, the Courtroom of the
Future is back, stronger than ever!
In addition to the training of
law students, the Courtroom facility will allow for various kinds of empirical
inquiry into the use of technology in the courtroom. The facility will support
study of important issues such as how jurors respond to various kinds of
technology and how technology can increase the efficiency of the trial process.
The project also will address such design considerations as equipment placement
and access by those with disabilities.
One of the most important
functions of the Courtroom and Law Office facilities will be the demonstration
of technology to practicing professionals both as information and as training.
The rapid advances in technology have created a need for continuing
professional training in various uses of technology both at the beginner and
the advanced level.
An important hidden benefit is
obtained by the use of technology in the law office and courtroom. Technology
can empower those with severe physical disabilities in numerous ways. Real time
reporting can allow the deaf to participate in various proceedings. Software
enhancements to modern operating systems allow such innovations as single
finger typing, control of unintentional errors, control of mouse cursor by
keyboard and other enhancements that provide access by those persons with
impaired motor control. Voice recognition technology allows the blind to input
data and text recognition technology can read data to the blind. The
possibilities for developing methodologies for supporting access by disabled
persons are broad and virtually unlimited.
Various carefully developed
policies inform the development of the Courtroom and Law Office of the Future
. USABLE TECHNOLOGY --We
seek currently usable technology that can be of immediate use to judges,
lawyers and court administrators. We also seek to find technology that is
available in the current market at reasonable prices. We do not intend to
devote substantial resources to development of advanced technology--rather the
project will develop new and innovative ways of using current technology in
real world situations.
CAPABILITY--We intend to be able to demonstrate usable technology to
those who are considering its use in their offices and courtrooms.
. TRAINING OF LAWYERS--One
of the most important functions of the project will be the re-training of
current professionals in the uses of technology. We intend to pay particular
attention to the needs of those who through fear or inertia have withdrawn from
learning, or who never were engaged, about the benefits of technology in
. STUDENT TRAINING--We
intend to provide every law student with the opportunity to develop their
technological skills in both the Courtroom and Law Office context.
Courtroom technology implicates the following functional areas:
use of modern presentation techniques allows the development of new kinds of
demonstrative evidence and can enhance the presentation of traditional
evidence. For example, documents used as exhibits can be scanned and presented
on a large screen where they can be annotated and emphasized in various ways.
. COMPUTER ACCESS--Scanned
exhibits and other trial documents can be immediately accessed via computer
saving time and protecting against the possibility of lost or mislaid
documents. The entire trial record can be placed on CD-ROM reducing the costs
associated with appellate review and enabling an appellate court to more
efficiently review voluminous records.
. REAL TIME TRANSCRIPTION--Real
time transcription of depositions and court testimony can enable more effective
examination of witnesses and provide more through analysis of proceedings by
alerting trial participants to nuances of testimony as it occurs. Cross
examination is enhanced when direct testimony is immediately available on
of proceedings as well as the use of video in various kinds of demonstrative
evidence is a powerful enhancement of the traditional trial process.
Videography may support the development of more efficient methods of retrial
following appeal where witnesses are no longer available. Videotaped depositions
are widely viewed as an efficient and fair way of presenting deposition
testimony in various circumstances.
. VIRTUAL COURTROOM--The
"virtual" courtroom is a courtroom where the participants are brought
together with technology. Whether a jury trial can ever occur in a virtual
courtroom is questionable, but hearing of motions and various kinds of pretrial
proceedings already occur in "virtual" space. Filing of documents
over telephone wires is now commonplace. As the technology advances, more
extensive use of teleconferencing will occur.
The use of law office technology
is exploding. Word processing has become "document" processing. The
fax is ubiquitous. Advanced telephony via satellite is upon us. The world in which
we practice is getting dramatically smaller by the minute. Among the area in
which the project seeks to develop expertise are the following:
. PAPER CONTROL & IMAGING--It has been estimated that use of paper in law offices averages over one ton per lawyer per year and is increasing. As a matter function and environmental policy, there is tremendous need to develop and implement methods of paper control. Computer imaging of documents is rapidly becoming safe, inexpensive and easy as new techniques for access and use are developed.
. WORK FLOW--Development of "workflow" strategies for the use of electronic documents in the law office is in its infancy but there is no more important field for study and development in the law office context. The project will exert substantial energy in this area.
of the most rapidly developing areas is the use telecommunication in day to day
law practice. Some of the common uses are:
--ELECTRONIC FILE TRANSFER
. DEVELOPMENT OF
MULTIMEDIA APPLICATIONS--One of the most exciting prospects for the use
of technology in law practice is the integration of sound and video into
traditional documents. Briefs can now contain video and sound clips that are
accessed by the click of a mouse. Presentations to court and clients can now
invoke the full range of video, sound and visual displays that are increasingly
common in modern life. The development of modern visualization techniques can
provide dramatic new ways of understanding various events and phenomena.
. PERSONAL PRODUCTIVITY--The
technology noted above already has begun to affect the personal lives of
lawyers in important ways. We are less bound to the office than ever before and
surely the future includes lawyers who operate from a "virtual"
office only. This is potentially a revolutionary change in the way lawyers
practice law. Study of the change implicates other disciplines such as
sociology, psychology and economics. Indeed, at an important level it raises
profound questions about our self-image and our personal lives.
. COMPUTER ASSISTED LEGAL
RESEARCH--The use of the computer as traditional research tool has been
one of the most dramatic changes in the last decade. While the computer has
introduced great efficiencies into the process of legal research there are
important professional issues that must be addressed. The need to insure equal
access to research materials and the impact of the explosion of case law are
but two of the problems that need special attention.
The College of Law is the place
where issues and problems created by the interface between technology and law
practice should be addressed. The College is surely a place where new lawyers
learn, but it also must now include in its mission the training of lawyers and
the provision of technical information to the bar and court systems. The
Project is designed to those ends. It will offer a continuing evaluation and
demonstration of the most usable current technologies for the law office and
courtroom. As such it will be in a process of continuous change as new
technologies come on line.
If the project interests you and you want to participate, you can write Winton Woods, Director of the Courtroom of the Future Project at the College of Law, Room 209, Tucson, Arizona. To access the Voice Mail call 520-621-1041. Send a fax to 520-322-6688. Winton Woods' direct line is 520-881-6118 and his cell phone is 520-907-6118.
The following companies have over the years provided goods and services of various kinds for the project:
--Boeckeler Instruments, Inc., Tucson, Arizona
--Mediatech, Inc., Holly Hill, Florida
--Lex Solutio Corporation, Phoenix, Arizona
--West Publishing Company
--Interactive Media Technolgies
--Work Production Service
--Watermark Software, Inc.
--Bear Rock Technologies
--Howrey & Simon
--Micro Solutions Inc.
--FastPoint Technologies, Inc.