THE HEAVY wooden furniture and dusty air of the courtroom looks set to become a thing of the past. Enter the ‘e-court’, an electronic courtroom of plasma screens, visual recording systems and video links for witnesses.
Last week, the federal Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Daryl Williams, launched the University of Canberra’s showcase court of the future, which is fast becoming the way of the present.
Information technology is becoming increasingly important in courtroom proceedings, linking people across states and in remote areas. The bushfire inquiry in the ACT, the Falconio trial in the NT, trials of alleged terrorists occurring across international jurisdictions and access to justice in remote Australian locations — all could be assisted by the e-court project.
The purpose of the e-court is to showcase the latest technology, provide training in its use and conduct multi-disciplinary research into the most appropriate uses of technology in the judicial setting, according to project director Professor Eugene Clark.
“The University of Canberra is one of only a few universities working in this area, demonstrating Australia’s leadership in both technology and the provision of state-of-the-art legal services,” Clark said.
The technology can be used to direct proceedings, allow legal practitioners to access court documents and relevant information and present information in a variety of ways. Additionally, expert witnesses from other jurisdictions and the parties themselves can present their cases via video links.