Smart-Court is an integral part of a world-class judicial system that enables existing courts to build or upgrade technologically advanced systems that enhance the experience of court users.
One of the initiatives focuses on implementation of an advanced digital evidence system to record court proceedings. Digital recording can be an effective means of capturing, preserving, and producing a court record.
To be effective, court administrators and judicial leaders must establish and manage a comprehensive program that ensures that all parties involved from those that set up and monitor the equipment to the Judge, attorneys and courtroom participants understand the process and what is required of them.
Adoption of best courtroom practices and the use of technology standards enable the recording equipment to capture the record. This requires the court to manage the production and distribution of the transcript. As part of this process the following must occur:
- Court leaders must make it clear that the court owns the record and must be able to access the record at all times
- A comprehensive training program must be implemented.
- Employees of the court should be subject to a specified code of conduct.
- Participants should be informed about the proceedings being recorded and how to enable their talks to be captured
- Judges should state each case by name and number each time a case is called. The Judge’s opening colloquy must inform participants of their responsibilities to speak during courtroom proceedings so that their words can be captured in the record.
- Microphones and cameras must be placed in the courtroom to enable the capture of each speaker’s words.
- The courtroom monitor’s responsibilities must be clear and must include the responsibility to:
- Test the software and equipment
- Monitor the recordings to ensure that the speakers’ words are being captured into the recording system
- Take log notes during the proceedings that enable playback and transcription
- Assist the Judge to conduct court proceedings while making and preserving the record
Transcription and Distribution of the Record
- Court leaders must:
- Make clear who can access the recordings and how they may be accessed
- Create a transcript management system that enables individuals to obtain an accurate transcript of the proceedings in a timely manner
Equipment and Technology Standards
- The system must contain a minimum of four audio recording channels.
- The courtroom must be equipped with:
- An audio/video processor
- Professional grade microphones with momentary mute pause switches set up according to the courtroom workflow at where participants may speak
- Stereo, noise cancelling headphones with a uniform frequency response.
- Cameras (only if video is being captured)
- A personal computer with a monitor for recording and monitoring/controlling the software
- The recording system must:
- Be able to embed time coding in the recording
- Enable the courtroom monitor:
- To take notes and identify speakers
- To conduct field searches of log entries for playback
- To isolate audio channels for the playback of recordings while simultaneously recording
- Contain a visual indicator viewable by all courtroom participants that the audio is being successfully recorded
- Protect against recording over previously recorded proceedings
- Enable sealing of the record both during and after the proceeding
- Automatically and securely back up recordings and store them both locally and on a network shared server
- Enable proceedings conducted in the Judge’s chambers to be captured into the record
- Provide the ability for the courtroom monitor to prevent amplification of bench conferences while emitting a white noise or an equivalent masking sound through the courtroom speakers to prevent jurors from overhearing the bench conference
- The transcript system must allow for field searches and a key word index.