Professor Winton Woods of the University of Arizona College of Law has been named the International Communications Industries Association "Educator of the Year" for 1995-96. The award was presented to him on June 12 during the ICIA's annual InfoComm trade show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His first place award is for his creative use of professional communications products in the "Courtroom of the Future Project" which was launched at the university in May 1995, and is considered the first project of its kind in the nation. The courtroom is focussed on generic off-the-shelf software and hardware that is both affordable and easy to use.
Prof. Woods uses the multimedia courtroom to educate students and practicing attorneys about the communication tools available to them. The courtroom also provides a live environment in which to research the use of technology during a trial. For example, presentation technology can save a great deal of court time and litigation expense with the use of document cameras, LCD projectors, video markers, and 3-D animation. Still, at what point can this technology get in the way of a fair trial? When is this technology most appropriately used? At what point does videoconferencing diminish the legitimacy of a trial? Prof. Woods, along with some of his students, are developing guidelines for issues that are just now coming to the forefront in legal circles.
The professor has also researched the low- to high-end costs of setting up a courtroom for the turn of the century. With this background he serves as consultant for many attorneys and judges across the country as they strive to update their courtrooms within budget constraints. Currently, the "Courtroom of the Future" blueprint is being installed in Judge Donald Walter's courtroom in Shreveport, LA. According to Prof. Woods, this courtroom will include technology he's researched, plus expanded technology so that the courtroom can address more complex litigation.
"The legal profession is one of the last industries to adopt uses of digital technology in the practice and in the courtroom," says Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Arkfeld (AZ) who helped nominate Prof. Woods for the award. "Professor Woods has broken that paradigm by his enthusiastic spirit of applying digital technology in his Courtroom of the Future."
Prof. Woods has been in the legal and educational professions for more than 30 years, and is currently Director of the "Courtroom of the Future Project" at the University of Arizona College of Law in Tucson, Arizona. He is on several technology task forces for the American Bar Association and Arizona State Bar Association.
He was recently appointed to the Arizona State Task Force on the Western Virtual University (WVU), a project of the Western Governors Conference and is launching a spinoff of the Courtroom of the Future -- a Law Office of the Future. This virtual "office" primarily integrates a computer, modem, videoconferencing and internet connections, and it can be installed in places as remote as a lakeside cabin. "Solo practitioners and leading attorneys are moving toward this," Says Prof. Woods. They find that this remote capability enhances productivity and still permits face time, or time actually spent face-to-face with the client or other attorneys. This project is only partially funded to date, and Prof. Woods expects he will obtain equipment and corporate sponsors for it in the same manner he did for the "Courtroom of the Future."
The ICIA award for "Educator of the Year" was determined by a panel of judges including Jacqueline Hess, Executive Director of the National Demonstration Laboratory for Interactive Information Technology; Kevin Gillen President of Gillen Interactive Group; Alfred Scott, Manager of AV Services for the Washington Convention Center; Charles Hamlin, Vice President of Public Affairs for the American Institute of Architects; and Jim Casey, President of Motion Media Production. The ICIA is a nonprofit association of presentation professionals, including manufacturers, a/v systems installers, a/v dealers, and end-users of presentation technology.
End-users include educators, corporate presenters, government and military multimedia coordinators, health science professionals and industrial users. Prof. Woods was nominated by "Courtroom of the Future Project" sponsor and ICIA member Boeckeler Instruments, Inc., (Tucson, AZ). Boeckeler Instruments manufactures the Pointmaker video marker that is used to draw and point on video and computer images.