Cutting Edge Additions in Motion at Boone County Courthouse

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COLUMBIA - The 13th Judicial Circuit has brought its second courtroom into the 21st century. Technological advances in the ceremonial courtroom of the Boone County Courthouse will reduce trial time and make the court process run smoother.

The 3 West courtroom has been used for technology during the past several years.

Division Two circuit judge Gary Oxenhandler said technology in the courtroom reduces trial time and cost.

"That is a big savings and things move along much quicker," Oxenhandler said. "The cost savings to all of the parties involved, the time savings to the court, it's an incredible amount because being involved in the litigation system now is so expensive and anything we can do to reduce those costs are important."

The ceremonial courtroom is now equipped with monitors, projector podiums, cameras and an overhead projector screen.

Instead of bringing in experts from out of state and individuals in from the Department of Corrections for questioning, the web cameras are used for video conferencing to save on transportation.

Here is a list of some of the other states doing courtroom technology upgrades:

-Michigan: Video conferencing equipment installed, or shortly to be
installed. Some of the trial courts also have touch screen technology.
-New Jersey: Courtrooms are wired with video conferencing.
-Florida: Video conferencing for a while and touch screen technology available.
-Rhode Island: In the process of converting to this technology during the
next three years.
-Nevada: Urban counties have had video conferencing and other technology for some time. Because of Nevada's large distances between county seats and the sparse populations, attorneys, parties, experts, interpreters and others can appear for court hearings by video or teleconference.
-Florida: Evidence presentation systems (digital document cameras), video conferencing, touch screen controls for local and remote operation.
-Arizona: Newest criminal courtrooms incorporate the latest technology.
-Minnesota: Several courtrooms with similar technology to what Missouri has incorporated.

Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight said the new technology will be an asset to jury members.

"What it comes down to is what those 12 people on the jury can see and hear," Knight said. "Our ceremonial courtroom is now being outfitted with equipment that is going to allow us to play this type of evidence much more easily than in the past."

Sergeant Joe Bernhard said video has the ability to be questioned beyond the frames captured.

"Video is not the be all end all because it doesn't record smells, emotion and little things especially if you're farther away," Bernhard said. "However, it does give a more accurate representation of what happened rather than relying on memories."

Even with all of the changes in the ceremonial courtroom, Judge Oxenhandler wants to make sure the original design and structure of the room stays the same.

"We wanted to maintain the ceremonial sanctity of the courtroom," Oxenhandler said. "When you go into 3 West, it's a very beautiful courtroom, but you can tell right away that it's designed to be technologically advanced."

All judges now have the ability to look at case files electronically and make their docket entries on the computer system while at the bench.

On Feb. 3, attorneys will be required to start "e-filing" electronically at the courthouse.

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