The Courtroom of the Future II
The Courtroom of the Future at the University of Arizona has emerged from a mid-life crisis with new energy, new technology and new partners. Early in the fall, the technological infrastructure in the Courtroom Of The Future began to crumble. Each effort to repair the system was successful for a while but ultimately would fail as old components gave up and died. This was a professional and personal crisis of major proportion. My students were expecting to be trained in the basic tools available to them in eCourtrooms now in place around the state, but without a major upgrade in both equipment and infrastructure we would be unable to provide that promised basic hands on training. To make matters worse there was no money available to purchase and install the necessary upgrades. I had made various commitments to courts and organizations around the state regarding the availability of the Courtroom of the Future in the emerging eCourtroom development initiative. My efforts to find money privately were unsuccessful. Then, with the help of our new primary corporate partners, Lex Solutio Corporation (www.lexsolutio.com), Boeckeler Instruments (www.boeckeler.com) and Mediatech (www.gomediatech.com) we were able to rebuild the Courtroom and bring it once again into the mainstream of courtroom technology. Here is the story.
Eight years ago when I began the construction of the first Courtroom Of The Future I was able to turn to manufacturers of electronic equipment who saw the same future for the utilization of imaging and display technology in the courtroom context. Major national companies such as an NEC, nView, Stewart Filmscreen and Extron all made significant contributions to the development process. One of the major contributors of both equipment and knowledge was Boeckeler Instruments of Tucson. Boeckeler is the designer and manufacturer of the Pointmaker telestrator you have seen on Monday Night Football and other sportscasts. Pat Brey of Boeckeler saw the future for the use of the Pointmaker in court proceedings and jumped into the development of the original Courtroom of the Future with enthusiasm and his tremendous knowledge of audiovisual technology. In the ensuing years, Pat’s vision turned out to be correct and the Boeckeler Pointmaker is now a critical component of the hundreds of eCourtrooms that have come online in the last few years. Pat knows almost everybody in the business and I decided to seek his advice regarding the necessary upgrades. Pat told me that Boeckeler was in the process of developing a remarkable new tool that integrated the Pointmaker with a distribution and switching system that could replace the entire complicated infrastructure of the Courtroom of the Future with a single box the size of a VCR. Called the PVI-PVI-X100, The new Pointmaker appeared to be the key to salvation of the courtroom infrastructure. But the cost of the product and installation approached $10,000.00, an unattainable sum of money for the project. Pat came over to the law school and spent an afternoon poking around in the maze of wires and electronic equipment that comprised the old courtroom infrastructure. At the end of the day he announced that he could redesign the courtroom infrastructure around the PVI-X100 and utilize many of the existing components thus saving tens of thousands of dollars. Most importantly, Pat announced that Boeckeler was willing to provide the project with the PVI-X100 and the necessary labor and expertise to replace the existing system. The only major component that we would have to buy would be a projector and Pat put me together with Sean Smiley at CCS Presentation Systems in Chicago (email@example.com) who had worked at Boeckeler some years ago. By donating his profit to our project, Sean was able to get us the needed $10,000.00 projector essentially at manufacturers cost. I had a small sum of money set aside from the sale of some equipment and it was just enough to allow us to buy the projector. I later learned that Sean and I had both grown up in Bloomington, Indiana but that is a story for another night.
Over a period of a couple of days my assistants T.J. Ryan and Robert Ashley worked with the people from Boeckeler to rebuild the courtroom. It was done just in time to support the final student presentations using the new equipment. Everything went wonderfully and we are moving ahead with the finishing touches. Mediatech, a Florida designer and builder of electronic classrooms whom we have worked with at the ABA TechShow is building and contributing a new integrated podium for us. Lex Solutio the Phoenix litigation support firm where I serve as part-time General Counsel has provided financial support. Sean Smiley is committed to providing other future needs at cost or less. Some of our old components such as our 10 foot retractable Stewart Filmscreen are still state of the art. Over the next few months we expect to have the Courtroom of the Future II in place and ready for training lawyers and judges as well as students in the process of utilization of the electronic courtrooms. Fortunately for us several new books have been released by the National Institute For Trial Advocacy that deal directly with the use of eCourtrooms (www.nita.com). When combined with Mike Arkfeld’s famous book on The Digital Practice of Law we now have in place a complete training program in electronic courtrooms. We look forward to showing it to you.
All of this trouble has served to focus the mission of the Courtroom
of the Future Project and educate us about the possibilities for building
inexpensive but full featured courtrooms in courthouses and law firms.
We will be focusing the Courtroom of the Future Demonstration Center at
the 2002 ABA TechShow on affordable courtroom technology for courts and
law offices. If you come to Chicago drop by and we will show you
a portable courtroom that you can carry on a plane and lots of other innovative
tools that make sense in difficult economic times. I hope to see you there
March 13-16, 2002. Go to www.techshow.com
for up-to-date information.