Supreme Court accepting public comment on videoconferencing recommendations
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Posted by: Beth Warrington
The Kansas Supreme Court has made available for public comment recommendations it recently received from its committee proposing standards, best practices and procedures for increased videoconferencing use in court settings.
The report, Recommendations for Videoconferencing in Kansas Courts, is based on extensive evaluation of legal and logistical issues by a 16-member committee appointed in late 2012. The committee included attorneys from private practice and government service, appellate and district court judges, information technology staff, and district court clerks.
"Increased use of videoconferencing technology in court proceedings will lead to cost savings for the court, reduced costs for civil litigants, and increased convenience for lawyers and witnesses,” said Wendel Wurst, chief judge of the 25th Judicial District and chair of the committee. "What we seek to establish is the foundation for that to occur.”
The committee’s recommendations expand on ideas posed by the Kansas Supreme Court’s Blue Ribbon Commission during Project Pegasus. They reflect the group’s objective analysis of practical issues related to increased videoconferencing use, as well as legal considerations raised by the Supreme Court Research Clinic at the University of Kansas School of Law.
"In the end, we will have statewide standards that make efficient use of our courts’ limited financial and personnel resources while maintaining constitutional protections for people charged with crimes,” Wurst said.
In criminal cases that could result in incarceration, videoconferencing will be used only to the extent it does not interfere with the defendant’s right to confront his or her accuser. However, some criminal defendants are already appearing by videoconference for procedural hearings, which saves courts transportation and security costs.
In civil cases, it will allow certain witnesses to appear by videoconference from another location, saving the witness time and parties to the case money. According to the recommendations, video testimony is generally allowed, but the opposing party has the opportunity to contest it.
For lawyers arguing before the Kansas Court of Appeals, the opportunity to appear by videoconference means no need to travel to Topeka or another location where a three-judge panel has convened. This means considerable savings for the lawyers’ clients.
"The committee has wisely taken more than a year to thoroughly review this complex topic,” said Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss. "While videoconferencing has the potential to save resources for many, we agree with the committee that the people of Kansas should have an opportunity to read the report and make suggestions.”
The Judicial Branch Videoconferencing Committee recommendations are available in the What’s New section of the Kansas Judicial Branch website. Public comment may be made by June 21, 2014, to Kathy Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org.