One of the core pieces of the justice system is your right to due process. Things like hearings and trials allow you to have your day in court. Courts across the country, including New York, have used video conferencing technology to make the process more efficient for the courts for decades.
Besides enhanced efficiency, proponents of the video technology cited better protection from safety and health threats as additional reasons for its use. As you might expect, there have been drawbacks to the use of video conferencing in hearings. Some of the issues include:
- Technical difficulties. Audio quality is a significant problem. Court rooms are sometimes open, which creates for a poor audio environment. Problems have also surfaced when it comes to court administrators having to dial in an outside expert witness and ensuring that everyone can hear the audio. That’s not to mention the potential for video feed issues.
- Less personability. It’s easy to treat a face on a screen differently than a person sitting in front of you. Judges, in some cases, have cut defendants off while they were speaking and moved on to the next video. A 2010 studied the use of video in hearings over an eight-year span and revealed that bail amounts increased by 51 percent.
- Infringement of constitutional rights. The U.S. constitution guarantees you the right to an attorney in a criminal trial. However, attorneys and clients have not always had the ability to converse privately before or during a video hearing. This infringement has even led to lawsuits filed over the use of video conferencing.
Your rights come first
Everyone’s time is valuable, and our courts system certainly has a lot on their plate. Finding ways to use modern technology to make the process more efficient is great but must not interfere with your constitutional rights. This innovation and efficiency must not come at the expense of your constitutional right to an attorney during your criminal trial.