n 1992, when the Odell McConnell Law Center opened its long awaited Phase II, the oak-paneled Darling Trial Courtroom was ahead of its time with TV cameras and monitors. Fast forward a dozen plus years and times have changed. Now the state of the art includes document cameras, video projectors, and plasma screens. In light of Pepperdine’s national leadership in advocacy training, it was time to upgrade the courtroom.
ExhibitOne, a leader in innovative courtroom technology was selected to design a phased implementation of technology in the Darling Trial Courtroom. With funding in hand for phase one, the installation of an integrated electronic evidence presentation system began.
ExhibitOne’s revolutionary courtroom technology solution, TrialView, enables a clear, concise evidence presentation that is a powerful catalyst enhancing the effectiveness of attorneys’ presentations to the court. TrialView is utilized in education and the judicial system for mock trials, training, and trial preparation. This technology enables countless courtrooms throughout the country to improve juror comprehension.
The Darling Trial Courtroom now has an array of displays around the courtroom that include slim LCD displays for the jury, counsel tables, judge, court reporter, and large plasma screens for the gallery. The witness and the advocate’s lectern both have touchscreen LCD displays that allow annotations to displayed evidence – Ex: Can you show the jury on this diagram approximately where you were standing in relation to the defendant’s car at the time of the accident?
The advocate’s lectern also contains a DVD and VHS playback device, a document camera, an integrated personal computer, and a port for the advocate to connect a laptop computer. All the audio and video are controlled through a wireless touchscreen remote control that allows the judge to limit what the jury, witness, or gallery can see or hear through the system.
Trial advocacy professor Tim Perrin is pleased with the upgrades. “As courtrooms are increasingly equipped with the latest in trial presentation technology and as citizens increasingly enter their jury service as ‘visual learners,’ it is of utmost importance that our students have access to and mastery of the latest technology in the field. Technology is merely a tool, not a guarantee of success in the courtroom. But the enhancements do provide opportunities for our students to learn how to harness the available technology to increase the effectiveness and persuasiveness of their advocacy.”
Professor Christine Goodman observed that her students have been really pleased to have the opportunity to learn how to use the technology. “Their comfort level with technology will be that much greater than for those students who first learned how to conduct a trial with only an overhead projector. All of my trial practice students used the technology for at least one of their practice sessions, and most used it for most of their exercises.”
After additional funding has been secured, phase two of the courtroom upgrades will begin. It will include an update of the video and audio recording technology (which currently dates back to the early 1990s), installation of a real-time court reporting system, and a video capture system for capturing displayed evidence onto paper or digital media. Depending upon available funds, a video conference system will be included. This will permit guest judges from around the country to participate in moot courts and/or lectures without the hassles and cost of travel and lodging.
The goal is to make the Darling Trial Courtroom available for real civil and non-custodial criminal trials. This will not only expose Pepperdine law students to the uses of modern evidence presentation tools in real trials but also expand our circle of friends within the bench and bar.
Reprinted with Permission, Pepperdine University.