The days of the jury leaning forward and squinting as a single TV and video player are wheeled in to display evidence are numbered, following a deal between the Irish Courts Service and business communications firm Damovo for the latter to supply state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment, as well as ‘evidence racks’ for displaying video evidence.
Following Damovo winning the EU-wide tender, the Four Courts, as well as certain district and circuit courts throughout Ireland, will be equipped with two large 46-inch screens for the jury and public to view, with individual touchscreen monitors for the judge and registrar, as well as for defence and prosecution counsel.
In the past, Gardaí and solicitors who wished to show their own video evidence were required to bring along their own video player but now these new evidence racks will have built-in PCs, laptop connections and play-back facilities for DVD and VHS, as well as online video services. Those presenting evidence could even choose to store their video on a password-protected site and not bring any physical evidence to court with them at all.
These new services have obvious benefits for the courts system, including speeding up the process of giving evidence – many if not most cases involve some sort of video evidence, usually in the form of CCTV footage acquired by Gardaí.
Of course, inter-court communications will also improve: “As well as improving services to the judiciary, defendants, solicitors and the Gardaí, this countrywide solution will allow regional court managers and other staff to conduct internal meetings via video conference, with consequent cost reductions,” said PJ Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Courts Service.
“In short, these futureproofed applications will increase the efficiency of court proceedings across the country, while maintaining the integrity of the Irish court system.”
So far Damovo has installed these technologies, which it will be managing, in over 20 courts including Dublin, Bray, Cork, Limerick, Castlebar and Tullamore. More courts are expected to be equipped before the year is out.
By Marie Boran
Pictured (from left): John McCabe, managing director, Damovo and PJ Fitzpatrick, CEO, Courts Service