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Attorney Brendan A. Sweeney of Sweeney Law, P.A. Featured in the March Edition of the Broward County Bar Barrister – TRIAL TECHNOLOGY STEPS

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Use of Courtroom Technology in The 17th Judicial Circuit

Attorneys we regularly have to use technology in the courtroom, which ranges from evidentiary hearings with the use of a video clip, to a full-blown trial with several videos, power point presentations, online presentations, and the like. The last thing you want to do is arrive at the courthouse with your client and not be able to have anything function properly. Below is a brief overview of items to consider the next time you have an evidence presentation in Florida’s Seventeenth Judicial Circuit.

New Evidence Presentation System. A new evidence presentation and video monitor system has been installed in the Circuit Civil and County Criminal courtrooms located in the Seventeenth Circuit’s new West Tower of the main judicial complex. Each courtroom has been equipped with video monitors at the judges’ bench, witness stand, attorney tables, jury box and even for the spectators. Any sound source that needs to be presented is processed through the courtroom sound reinforcement system. Note though, the judge controls what is presented through the system. Anything put into the system for presentation is first viewed by the judge and then can be displayed and published on the courts monitors. The judge then has the ability to publish the evidence to just the attorneys table or to the entire courtroom.

Interface Connection. As part of the presentation systems each of these new courtrooms has an interface connection installed at each of the attorneys’ tables. Should a litigant need to present something, they can simply connect almost any device to the presentation system through these provided connections. This includes devices such as laptop computers via VGA or HDMI connections. Under an access panel on the top of the table a user will find a single grounded electrical outlet for power and pull out cables for the connection of a device through a full-sized HDMI cable, a mini 3.5-millimeter stereo audio jack, or a 15-pin VGA cable. Once the device is connected by any of these cables the source is available for display.

Evidence Presentation Podium. Another feature of the evidence presentation system is the evidence presentation podium. Each evidence presentation podium is equipped with a built-in document camera and an installed VHS/DVD player. These podiums are also equipped with the same interface jacks at the attorney tables for VGA, mini audio, and HDMI inputs. However, users of these ports must provide their own cables for connection to the ports on the podium. Each evidence presentation podium is also equipped with a touch screen control panel that acts as the remote control for all applicable devices that may be accessed through the podium.

Does Not Support Apple Devices. Any individual looking to use the new presentation systems should know that the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit does not support Apple devices. Anyone wishing to use Apple devices with the evidence presentation systems must provide any and all interfaces needed to do so.

Please remember that this equipment is provided by the court and is the property of the Trial Court Administrator’s Office.

Preparation in Advance. It is important that attorneys appearing in these new courtrooms prepare in advance of any hearing or trial for the use of the courtroom’s evidence presentation system. Attorneys are advised to spectate other court proceedings and speak with court deputies or judicial assistants regarding the use of these systems. The deputies and assistants may also be able to provide insight on how specific judges like the presentation system to be handled. Finally, it may be possible, with proper permission, to conduct a dry run of using the evidence presentation system before any trial or evidentiary hearing so as to familiarize yourself with the equipment and make sure everything is compatible. It is worthwhile to speak with the bailiff and request to schedule a dry-run of the courtroom technology; they are always very accommodating with the request.

For more information please consult the 17th Judicial Circuit’s webpage and their YouTube channel.

See page 14 for original article – https://www.browardbar.org/wp-content/uploads/barrister/2020/march/Barrister-March-2020.pdf

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