Broadband in the Courtroom

MPR ran a great story last week on Minnesota courtrooms using technology for remote hearing, remote monitoring of courtrooms and centralized citation payment system. The article highlights some of the benefits of using technology…

Judge Gerald Seibel sits in his courtroom in Morris, in Minnesota’s 8th Judicial District, one of the state’s most rural. He routinely conducts hearings in other counties via television. He said remote hearings can lead to quicker hearings for defendants and ease the travel burden on witnesses and county sheriffs. “We have to be understanding of people’s time,” Seibel said. …

But given dwindling public resources, it’s become one way to provide court services to rural counties without unduly burdening witnesses and strapped sheriff’s departments, which transport prisoners, not to mention the judges themselves. It also saves money on expert witnesses, who usually charge for mileage.

And some of the potential drawbacks…

The use of ITV for hearings is controversial and public defenders have argued that it demeans the legal process.

They also note that remote hearing options are generally not used for big trials but more for the day-to-day stuff that consumes court time. One essential ingredient required to take advantage of these technology options is broadband…

To support Minnesota’s move toward a paperless court system and to foster the use of ITV and other technology, Dosal said the state recently upgraded broadband access in its courthouses, including rural locations. “The places that need ITV the most, in the rural parts of the state, have the least bandwidth,” she said. “We understood that to do ITV and move in this E-court environment, we had to have robust broadband access.”

This entry was posted in Broadband Applications, Government, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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