Michigan’s State Supreme Court: details and numbers of a success story.
In many courtrooms all over the world videoconferencing has already become such essential as lawyers, judges and police. The United States, one the first countries to adopt this technology, has been fully exploiting its benefits and it’s already begun using the service during proceeding in order to increase their security.
Let’s cross the ocean and go to Michigan, which gives us a prime example of how to quickly and effectively improve the judicial system, bringing substantial savings of public money. But let’s start with a funny fact. One day in this state two people, accused of trafficking heroin, participated in proceedings online, via web conference. Nothing strange so far? The fact is that the prison, where the hearing was held, is just a few steps from the Court. Video conferencing can bring considerable benefits even in such situations, as it decreases security risks and saves staff’s time, which otherwise would be engaged in the transfer of the accused and could not be assigned any other task.
Cutting Public Spending
The data on savings of public resources leaves no room for doubt. David. F. Viviano the judge of the Michigan Supreme Court notes that the spread of video conferencing and virtual courtrooms has saved the Michigan Department of Corrections nearly 5 million dollars in the last two years. “The advantages of video conferencing usage are logic: it saves time and money”, says the judge Viviano. “At the same time, no need to transport prisoners reduces the risks. In short, everyone gains.”
A Virtual Courtroom for Each County
Currently 417 courtrooms of Michigan are equipped with video conferencing solutions. Since its launch in 2010, the program has proved to be so successful that at least one high definition video conferencing system is present in all 83 counties of the American state. And 78 counties have at least one video conferencing endpoint in each courtroom.
30% of Proceedings by Videoconference
According to state authorities, virtual meetings cover about 30% of the judicial proceedings, a significant percentage of which can grow further. Thanks to video conferencing, the deputy sheriffs have time to perform other security functions, instead of passing the whole day transporting prisoners. The project involves all the judiciary institutions. In fact, among the partners of Michigan Supreme Court there are state police forensic laboratory and public organisations for mental health.
All Stages of the Process
Thanks to video conferencing, police engineers can assist remotely at proceedings, pre-hearings and other types of judicial activities, saving time and money. For all these reasons, video conferencing is one of the priorities of the Michigan Supreme Court, which strives to increase the efficiency of local courts. With this technology, the total savings of the entire public machine are about 6.4 million dollars per year.