Florida’s 17th Circuit honored as trailblazer in courtroom technology

Florida’s 17th Circuit honored as trailblazer in courtroom technology

The 17th Judicial Circuit, an early adopter of remote technology, is now considered a national leader.

The 17th Circuit was recognized by the National Center for State Courts in the “Implementing Courtroom Technology” category of the 2023 “Court Space Innovation and reDesign Challenge.”

“The 17th Circuit was the only circuit highlighted to represent the state of Florida in that category,” said 17th Circuit communications specialist Joshua Rodriguez.

The NCSC highlighted a dozen court projects across the country as “models of new promising practices in the state courts community.”

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, courts across the nation have recognized a need to implement innovative practices to increase access to adjudication and court services using technology and new service initiatives,” the group said. “As a result, many are considering how their spaces could better support these new ways of conducting business.”

The 17th Circuit was one of three jurisdictions the NCSC recognized in the “Implementing Courtroom Technology” category. The other two were in Indiana and Utah.

The NCSC pointed to the 17th Circuit’s “Project Vision,” an initiative that began with “rolling technology carts” in 2020.

The next year, the project evolved into a collaboration with Broward County to construct a courtroom on an empty floor. The courtroom underwent “comprehensive technological integration” to facilitate remote and hybrid proceedings, and the circuit has ongoing initiatives to retrofit all 75 courtrooms, the NCSC notes.

“The integration of QSYS Touch Panel systems and automated camera features facilitated seamless audio and video control, enabling judges to manage proceedings smoothly. The ability to share documents and evidence directly from the attorneys’ desks enhanced collaboration and presentation capabilities, further expediting the legal process,” according to the NCSC.

The remote capability increased attendance at hearings, including dependency hearings, the group said. It also pointed to a Florida Supreme Court administrative order that gave chief judges more flexibility to authorize remote and hybrid proceedings.

“This allowed for the efficient and tailored delivery or court services to meet the needs of participants,” the group said. “The availability of technology to support remote and hybrid court proceedings offers all participants cost and time savings.”

Based in Williamsburg, Va., the independent, non-profit NCSC has for more than 50 years “shared authoritative knowledge and expertise to address current and emerging issues and trends in state court administration.”

Originally published at https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-news/floridas-17th-circuit-honored-as-trailblazer-in-courtroom-technology/

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