In August 1999, the Delaware State Bar Association teamed up with vendors to design and implement what was purported to be the nation's first actively used courtroom of the future.
Designated the eCourtroom, the Superior Court of Delaware used this experimental courtroom in Wilmington, Delaware to hold civil trials. The hope was that the eCourtroom would serve as a model of efficiency for courts across the country. It served as a testing ground for new technologies and designs before final plans were made for the new 55-courtroom New Castle County Courthouse.
The entire room was constructed on a platform raised two inches above the floor of the courtroom. In the event that the court or trial attorneys' desired to modify the current layout of the seating and/or workstations, the entire modular installation could be rapidly modified.
Our first eCourtroom was configured with a nine-station computer network with two servers, an Intel network switch, and flat monitors. The network linked attorneys, judges, podium and witness stand, the court technologist, and other courtroom personnel using Microsoft NetMeeting collaboration software. This software allowed the participants to communicate and send documents between stations during the trial proceedings. All stations can view the court transcription as the court reporter works.
A browser-operated control system on the network controls any electrically operated devices installed in the eCourtroom. The court technologist can assign or limit individual audiovisual control functions to a given station as directed by the judge.
A document camera, three multimedia playback systems, and ceiling-mounted projector allowed images to be projected on a large computerized white-screen mounted behind the witness. The witness can draw or write electronically on the projected image and the individual or composite images produced can be stored and reproduced by the computer system. The state of art sound system was combined with a digital sound recording system to provide four-track recording and playback of the proceedings. Also installed was a pink noise system (similar to white noise) to be broadcast to the jury while judge and attorneys conduct private sidebar conferences.