This blog has been following the expansion of the use of technology in the justice system. See our posts about electronic filing (2010), court appearances by telephone (2011), and fighting tickets online (2012).
Video technology is also being embraced by the courts. One well-established use of video is the recording of depositions. A deposition is the sworn oral testimony of a party or witness that takes place prior to trial. Depositions are a form of evidence, and they are normally taken in court reporters’ or lawyers’ offices. Video is simply used to record the testimony, and replaces a voice recording or the transcription of the court reporter’s notes on paper.
Video court appearances by incarcerated criminal defendants have also been in use for some time, because a video link from the courtroom to the jail is much easier and more secure than transporting the defendant from the jail to the courtroom and back. Video appearances may also be used in applications for restraining or protective orders, to allow the applicant to testify without having to be in the same room as the person they need to be protected from. Another common use of video is in child custody hearings, where one party resides in a different state.
Use of video in court proceeding has been increasing as video technology has become cheaper, more reliable, and more mainstream. Many states now permit video conferences, appearances, and testimony in many other types of cases, not just those noted in the previous paragraphs. Use of video is governed by each state’s court rules, and CourtReference has links to each state’s court rules in its Self-Help and Legal Research category. Finding the relevant court rules that govern video can be time-consuming, so South Dakota’s 2nd Judicial Circuit has published information about its video appearance procedures on its website. Watch for more creative uses of video and other technologies by checking court rules and court website resources, right here on CourtReference.