To use video in courts isn’t exactly new, since the 70s that courts have been admitting video recorded testimonies and video has been used to link court houses to county jails and state prisons. But videoconferencing is now starting to be used to allow witnesses in remote locations to give testimonies in local civil trials.
Recently Spc. Joshua Kennedy, who is stationed at an army base in Afghanistan, was asked to make a testimony on an attempted murder trial in Stark County. He sat and, in front of a web cam, he swore to tell the truth in front of a jury thousands of miles away.
This was the first time that videoconferencing has been used in Stark County in a felony trial, and follows another videoconference testimony used in a civil trial in January.
According to the Common Pleas Judge Trayn L.Heath, “it was a kind of new territory for the court in general.”
The request to put Spc. Kennedy on the stand was made by Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Fred Scott, who figured out the equipment available at the Afghanistan army base. When faced with the request, Stark County court network administrator Brian Wadian replied that “we’ve never done it before, but it sounds like it’s feasible.”
Though the case resulted in a mistrial, the experiment with videoconferencing was considered a success and it opens many possibilities for the future. One of the benefits of videoconferencing technology is that it allows for a live interaction between attorneys and witnesses, something that video recorded testimonies didn’t allow.
Videoconferencing also streamline cases by saving time and transportation costs, increasing the court system efficiency, while also allowing witnesses in remote locations and those that have mobility issues to give their testimony in trial cases.