Information technology (IT) is the court operation broadly responsible for maintaining internal automation (case management system, courtroom automation,) communication technology (telephone, fax, e-mail) and the supporting infrastructure. IT personnel should expect and be prepared for increases in traffic due to the nature of high-profile cases.
It is IT’s responsibility to prevent or minimize the impact of technological failures.
- Assess any AV/IT infrastructure needs prior to trial and participate in any pre-planning meeting.
- Work with the high-profile case team to determine any IT needs related to the jury (example: iPad's with evidence.)
- Coordinate with the trial judge about any courtroom technology needs and timelines for installation.
- Ensure that all case management systems are up-to-date and discuss any necessary upgrades or access/security concerns given the nature of the trial.
- Test digital evidence in advance (there are often problems with certain digital media, and some formats may require proprietary software or display methods. DVDs don’t always play on a DVD player and may require a laptop with specific player software. This should be determined and accommodated in advance of the trial.
- Train users on use of any court provided technology for evidence presentation, and determine best placement and timing of when various resource may be needed for the trial. (attorneys are responsible for presenting their case, and should know how to use the equipment.)
- Determine if an overflow room is needed. This room should be determined ahead of time and technology resources setup to provide a video and audio feed to the area. (this is needed not only to accommodate volume of people, but also to separate individuals that are likely to engage in hostile actions such as rival gang members).
- In older courtrooms, an electrical and cable management plan may be needed.
The demands generated through heightened external communication will require IT to access resources, capacity, and methods of communication available throughout the course of the case.
Facilitate and support internet presence during the course of the trial (example: server capacity, bandwidth, etc.)
- Determine with the high-profile case team if Wi-Fi will be provided in the courthouse, and if so maintain it.
- Determine the increased demands on the court's website from the high-profile case and their likely impact. Discuss with the high-profile case team the most appropriate ways to disseminate information such as court orders with the expected higher amounts of traffic. Consider hiring a vendor or using external platforms to reduce the burden on the court's server. Another successful method is having a release schedule to limit the hits per day per person.
It will be important for internal communication methods and technologies to be evaluated by IT to ensure needs are met through the course of the case.
- Interface with state administration officials as needed for support and resources.
- Support telephone rerouting, if necessary.
- Identify and/or design an internal communications network for e-mail communications and document access for the case.
- Determine a mechanism for secure communications with justice partners. This might be as simple as an e-mail tree, but is likely to be more complex.
Heightened cyber security needs will require that court case management and electronic communications systems are tightly monitored. Wireless networks available to the public will need to be evaluated to assess capacity with the potentially increased demand for bandwidth.
- Coordinate with security officials to help implement any IT needs they may have, and listen to any IT-related concerns they may have.
- Monitor and maintain security of electronic information (case management system and other electronic records) during the case.
- Use only secure video conferencing feeds for remote witness testimony.
- For difficult litigants (e.g., mental health issues or potentially violent), consider setting up a remote access feed into a secure area.
Dedicated IT staff needs to be identified to monitor and quickly respond to technological needs during the course of the case. Specific responsibilities need to be outlined for each individual and the team to help ensure courtroom technology is fully functional, wireless traffic continues to be functional with increased demand, court ordered IT resources for the media are functional, and a response team is available and ready to address unanticipated problems.
- Ensure that all staff are properly trained and cross-trained on any software they might need to complete their duties.
- Ensure that there will be sufficient IT staff to accommodate the increased IT needs of a high-profile case, and address any additional staffing needs that arise.
- Ensure that contacts for any vendors being used can be contacted quickly if the need arises, i.e. internet provider, phone company