Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

Washington County Circuit Court equipment demonstration set for May 21

May 18, 2004

Judges of the 4th Circuit District will have a training session at noon on Friday, May 21, in Greenville to introduce attorneys to electronic evidence presentation equipment recently installed in the Washington County Circuit courtroom.

The computerized audio-visual system is intended to make it easier for jurors to see, hear and understand the presentation of evidence.

Circuit Judge Betty W. Sanders said, "In complex litigation, it's invaluable."

An image projection system allows attorneys presenting evidence to place documents, pictures and other objects on an imaging surface and magnify and display that image on a screen. A witness or attorney may highlight text in documents or draw on documents or photos. Audio and video evidence may be played on a VCR, a CD player or an audio cassette player. Controls are computerized. Lawyers can plug their own computers into the courtroom system.

In the past, attorneys have leased equipment or brought their own for evidence presentation in complex civil litigation. It was an added expense for the litigants, Judge Sanders said.

Administrative Office of Court Project Manager Joey Craft will conduct the equipment training in the second floor courtroom at the Washington County Courthouse. Judge Sanders and Circuit Judges Margaret Carey-McCray, Ashley Hines and Richard A. Smith are expected to attend the demonstration. Lawyers who practice in Washington County Circuit Court have been invited to watch the presentation.

Craft said, "What seems so remarkable about these complex integrated systems that we're installing is that they are surprisingly easy to use." He added, "Until recently, courtrooms in Mississippi have been among the last areas to benefit from advances in technology."

Washington County is the thirteenth county to get electronic evidence presentation equipment through the Court Delay Reduction Program of the Administrative Office of Courts. Since November 2001, courtrooms in Bolivar, Coahoma, DeSoto, Forrest, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lauderdale, Lee, Pike and Rankin counties received computerized audio and video display systems with the assistance of federal grant money.

The equipment and installation are expected to cost about $42,000. The Washington County Board of Supervisors will pay 25 percent to match a federal grant. The grant is administered by the state Department of Public Safety Division of Public Safety Planning.