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Technology in the Court

Nov 17, 2010 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley

State-of-the-art mock courtrooms demonstrate future courtroom technology.


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Law students at the University of Memphis Law School learn the ways of defense and justice in the school's mock courtroom. Here, a combination of audioconferencing, flatscreen, and control technology keep these systems within reach during trial sessions but subtly hidden within the historical architectural details. Photo by Pamela Becker

Law students at the University of Memphis Law School learn the ways of defense and justice in the school's mock courtroom. Here, a combination of audioconferencing, flatscreen, and control technology keep these systems within reach during trial sessions but subtly hidden within the historical architectural details.
Photo by Pamela Becker

That podium is a marvel of gear being packed into a decorous yet utilitarian enclosure that is both a media port and a lectern. Inside, a JVC SR-MV50US S-VHS/DVD/DVD-R combination recorder/playback device, an Extron MTP RL 15HD A SEQ VGA input for laptop computers, and an Elmo P30S document camera act as the portals for data for presentations and evidence given by counsel or by the class professor. The lectern user can see the input display on a 24in. Elo TouchSystems 2420LB touchpanel screen that is electronically annotatable, using a Crestron DVPHD dual processor.

As technically intricate as they are, the lecterns were the center of some turbulence during the project. Dave Lahey, CTI's estimator, who became the project manager on the job, recalls that at first the school had indicated that it would provide the 18 lecterns that would be used throughout the school. In June 2009, several months into the systems part of the renovation, it became apparent that the lecterns were going to be significantly delayed. The opening day for the facility was slated for Jan. 20 2010; the lecterns arrived exactly one month before that. Upon delivery, CTI's crew saw that the manufacturer had interpreted a 19in. standard rack size as the interior dimension, making it too small to be fitted with the Middle Atlantic racks CTI had planned to install. "We later found out that the manufacturer's claim to fame was building furniture for Motel 6," Lahey says dryly.

The crew worked feverishly in their own workshop over Christmas to get two lecterns for the mock and moot courtrooms ready in time. Thanks to some neat wiring and bypassing, they gave the dignitaries the appearance of flawless operation, which all of them achieved over the next several months as integration continued. "We made sure that the very next bid we did the lecterns would be part of our package," Lahey says.

All of the input ingested by the lecterns' systems can be routed to any of the display screens around the room. These include six Dell E248WFP 24in. 1920x1200 widescreen LCD screens in front of each juror position, supported by Chief Manufacturing wall mounts, as well as one for each counsel table and one for each judge's bench. A Digital Projection Titan HD-600 720p/8000-lumen projector, lowered from a recession in the ceiling in the rear of the courtroom, illuminates a 150in.-diagonal Draper motorized screen that drops down in front of the judge's bench.





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