|Technology in Superior Court
| eCOURTROOM SOFTWARE
The digital evidence presentation system serves as the heart of the embedded
electronics in the courtroom. The system allows counsel to switch from displaying
exhibits, realtime transcripts, video recordings or multimedia presentations
with the push of a button.
However, the court maintains direct control of audio and visual distribution
at all times during courtroom presentations through a Crestron control system and its application software. The bailiff, and if necessary,
the judge can instantaneously mute or stop any audio or visual presentation.
Crestron application screen enables the courtroom bailiff to control and
route all the audio and visual presentation equipment within the courtroom.
This includes all input and output for courtroom microphones, video, VCR,
DVD, ELMO, projector, computers, and volume.
Technologies which support the making of a court record are evolving at
a rapid pace. The Court has an obligation to make an accurate record of
all proceedings and to ensure that the ability to do so is preserved into
the long-term future.
In 2001, Administrative
Directive 2001-1 (Strategic Plan for Making the Court's Record) established
a strategy for making the record which recognized the need to keep pace
with advances in technology, provide efficient service to the citizens
of Delaware, and help Court employees adapt to the new requirements stemming
from the evolution of tools and expectations in the field of court reporting.
The plan assigned responsibility for the management of record-making process
in Superior Court. It addressed each of the methods of making a record,
the deployment of technology resources, the assignment of court reporters,
and an explanation of transcript preparation.
The court's official
record is maintained by court reporters who use traditional reporting
methods as well as interactive realtime transcription. Realtime reporting combines the traditional transcription of court reporters
with cutting-edge technology to enable courtroom participants to see speech
as soon as they hear it.
In the courtroom,
realtime provides simultaneous translation of testimony directly onto
our linked projection system and computer screens. The results are similar
to closed-caption text on television. Currently, the two most popular
programs that can support realtime feeds are LiveNote and Summation.
Realtime demands a higher level of skill from court reporters and requires
that new terminology and proper nouns be loaded into a reporter's dictionary
before the proceedings begin, so that the Realtime output will be easy
to read by the participants. On November 4, 1999, the judges of Superior
Court endorsed a goal of having all the Court's reporters able to do Realtime
In a realtime setup, the court reporter's stenographic keyboard is connected
to the reporter's notebook computer, which is running a realtime software
program that translates the stenographic symbols into words. In court,
realtime transcription from the court reporter can be directed to monitors
at the Judges bench and jury box. With required software, attorneys
can also connect to this computer (either with a serial cable or via the
Internet) to receive a transcript that keeps pace with the testimony.
For the setup to work, the users must have the same or compatible realtime
software as the reporter.
This technology allows the judge and counsel to view testimony on their
computer screens as it is taken, to highlight testimony, code issues online,
to mark and annotate key sections for later use, and generate comments
to linked co-counsel as the testimony is taken. This technology empowers
courtroom participants with instantaneous access to proceedings as they
are given. The court reporter can also provide the attorneys with an ASCII
disk of the data at the conclusion of the day's proceedings.
As of December 31, 2001, all Superior Court reporters provide Realtime
Digital Audio Recording
Selected proceedings in this courtroom are archived using an FTR
audio recording system. This technology creates a verbatim record without
the use of a court reporter.
The FTR product captures, stores, manages, replicates, and disseminates
digital audio files. Multiple channels are used to allow for individual
recording of each person. In addition to recording the proceeding, the
clerk or judge can make separate private annotations that are stored along
with the recording. Once stored on the server the recording can be accessed
via any PC on the LAN and potentially distributed to external entities
via a diskette, network or Web site.
Videoconferencing has been used in the court for more than a decade. Traditionally,
it was initially used for a limited number of purposes, primarily arraignments,
remote witness testimony, and in-state administrative meetings.
The technology demonstrated an excellent return on investment for a wide
range of court activities. More recently, videoconferencing has emerged
as an essential element of our integrated courtroom technology. Our in-court
videoconferencing is seamlessly integrated into the courtroom configuration.
Sentencing Order Program (ASOP)
The Superior Court of Delaware is now using technology to streamline
criminal justice. The Court, in cooperation with the Administrative
Office of the Courts, has implemented a GUI Windows-based Automated Sentencing
On March 27, 2000, ASOP went into full statewide production. The implementation
stage began in Delaware's Kent and Sussex Counties and became statewide
with the addition of the New Castle County Superior Court in January 2000.
The ASOP application enables the court to issue sentencing orders almost
simultaneously with a judge's pronouncement. Previously it would take days
to disseminate the information to all criminal justice agencies. Sentencing
data is electronically filed and transferred within minutes to prisons and
other agencies. Defendants receive a complete copy of their sentencing order
in the courtroom. Criminal histories also are updated for future court proceedings.
The results are impressive. Updated criminal records are available at the
time of sentencing. With the click of a button, the judge can view the criminal
history of the defendant. Prison authorities will receive the order electronically
before the defendant even arrives for incarceration.
Likewise, the Probation and Parole Department will now have an order on
file in advance of a defendant showing up to begin probation. Another benefit
is putting updated information into the hands of police officers on patrol.