Courtroom AV Gets as Smooth as the Lawyers

Judges, lawyers and juries nowadays demand top-notch presentation technologies that provide ease of use, don’t call attention to themselves, and don’t require a dedicated tech staff for operation.
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Judges, lawyers and juries nowadays demand top-notch presentation technologies that provide ease of use, don’t call attention to themselves, and don’t require a dedicated tech staff for operation. When the the Stanislaus County Courthouse in Modesto, Calif., added four new courtrooms on two different floors of a building it ended up with collaboration technology that’s become something of a model for the legal community.

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The technology stays behind the scenes in Stanislaus County. Atlanta-based integrator AVI-SPL tackled the issues common to courtrooms everywhere. That includes variances in the different judge’s hearing abilities; so AVI-SPL got a good audio mix using Biamp Audiaflex with Cobranet audio controllers to provide different sound levels in different zoners of the courtrooms. They also installed JBL ceiling speakers and a Sennheiser ALS system to comply with state ADA requirements.

The installers even brought the judges in during the design process to make sure the audio worked well for them.

Court clerks didn’t need to become A/V technicians; AMX control systems in each courtroom have several presets and lets courtroom staff make adjustments on the fly, getting the right images to the right place without distraction.

For visual presentations, each courtroom include two 42-inch NEC plasmas for audience viewing, 19-inch displays for jury viewing (one display for every two jurors), 15- to 19-inch NEC displays for the judge, clerk, prosecution and defense desks, and a 42-inch Panasonic monitor with SMART Board overlay—and Shure wireless mics—for notating during trial. Maximum versatility is provided with VGA inputs at defense and prosecution tables, judge, and clerk's locations, as well as a mobile cart with VGA inputs, DVD/VCR combo and document camera.

Plus, a 50-inch monitor faces the courtroom gallery.

“Everyone can see the same thing and have the same perspective,” said Barbara Stuller, AVI-SPL account executive on the project.

The switch to wires flatpanel monitors is a major improvement over the days of projectors or big CRTs on carts. It looks better, and saves space.

Also, the complexity of the system is concealed, so what’s shown is the evidence and the arguments, not wires, technicians and mixing board.

It adds up to a smooth aesthetic look that audiences and jurors, used to seeing courtrooms on “Law and Order,” have come to expect.

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