Aug 18, 2014
Local jurisdictions, faced with caseloads of increasing complexity and cost, have adopted alternative approaches to criminal case processing — including the use of new technologies — that have the potential to reduce backlog and improve judicial efficiency. Telepresence technology, which allows an individual or group of individuals to appear in a court proceeding from a remote location, is one example of such a technology. On behalf of the National Institute of Justice, RTI International and the RAND Corporation convened the Court Appearances Through Telepresence Advisory Workshop in November 2018 as part of the Priority Criminal Justice Needs Initiative. The telepresence workshop was designed to explore the potential benefits and burdens of telepresence technology and identify innovative solutions for addressing concerns regarding the use of these technologies for criminal court appearances. Participants acknowledged the potential benefits of telepresence technology in expediting pretrial and trial case processing; providing cost savings; and expanding the ability of victims, witnesses, language interpreters, and other individuals to participate. However, the panel members also discussed the potential disadvantages of telepresence technology, which can result in a violation of the defendant's constitutional rights or increase the risk of an unfavorable outcome. Participants also expressed the need for detailed technical standards and stakeholder-specific trainings that ensure the proper setup and high-quality multipurpose use of telepresence technology in court. Given the complexity of the issues involved, the participants emphasized the need to enable state and local courts to handle data collection and storage in a manner that preserves the trial record.