Saturday, June 02, 2012

Technology

I was doing a number of plea and case management hearings yesterday, one of which was by video link.

Unfortunately the prosecutor arrived and gave me a new indictment which rather upset the planned pleas for the hearing. The defendant was charged with one offence up until yesterday and then all of a sudden he is being prosecuted for two offences.

If the hearing was not by video link I would have simply gone down to the cells and spoken to the defendant to discuss the change with his case. The problem was I had already spoken to the defendant in the prearranged conference slot before the hearing and I was given the new indictment two minutes before the hearing.

During the hearing the Court attempted to connect to the prison so that the Court could see the defendant and the defendant could see the Court - but due to problems it took something like 35 minutes for the equipment to work and that was after several reboots. It would have been quicker for the defendant to be brought directly from the prison to Court when they realised that there was a problem with the equipment.

When the equipment worked I had to ask the Court to for further time to discuss the recent developments and the Judge decided the quickest way to do this was simnply to clear the entire Court.

The hearing that was estimated to take 15 minutes to complete in fact took some 50 minutes. Video linkl technology is supposed to speed up proceedings and reduce costs by dispensing with the costs of bringing a prisoner to Court. Yesterday was a fine example how technology sometimes causes extra delays in Court hearings.

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