Call of Duty – Jury Duty that is

I had the privilege/honor/civic duty to be a juror last week, which lasted over a week BTW. I have been called to jury duty twice before. The first time, I showed up and within a few hours, the court decided that they had picked enough jurors for the day. The second time, I got a bit closer to being a juror. I was actually selected to a jury panel, where both the prosecutors and defense attorneys asked questions to see if I was an unbiased juror. I tried getting out by stating someone in my family was in the law enforcement field. That did not excuse me; however, I was not selected to be a juror. This time I was not so lucky. After two days of juror selection, I was chosen as one of 14 jurors (12 plus two alternates) to determine if the defendant was guilty of a capital crime.

One may ask what this has to do with Documentum. Well, after being sitting through three days of deliberation and reviewing all of the evidence that was presented, it occurred to me that even though the court house provided free Wi-Fi for the public, there was not much technology being used by the court beyond that. Here are some scenarios that technology could have helped in the presentation and review of evidence:

1) Both prosecutors and defense attorneys made references to past grand jury testimonies. In order to present this material to the witness on the stand, both sides had to explicitly identify the grand jury testimony, date, and line numbers that were being referenced. Each side would take a minute or two to find the appropriate testimony (document), flip to the appropriate page, and review the lines that were being referenced.

2) Several DVDs from a security camera were presented as evidence. The prosecutor had to spend 5-10 minutes locating the appropriate frames from the multiple DVDs to present to the court. When we (the jury) had to review the DVDs, we spent as much, if not more time to scan through DVD and find the appropriate frames.

3) One piece of evidence that was presented was a hand drawn diagram depicting the crime scene. The diagram showed where people were located, the various streets, and specific houses. Even though the picture was simple, it was hard to align/rotate this with respect to other images that were presented.

4) About 10 photos were enlarged and introduced as evidence as well. These photos were printed on large poster boards and every time each side wanted to talk about these images, they would have to set up an easel in front of the jurors and then take it down afterward.

Now if you review these scenarios, you can easily see where some sort of content management solution (e.g. Documentum) could be developed to facilitate/improve how this evidence is presented and stored for future reference. If I was building a courtroom solution (which obviously would built upon a records repository), here are some features that I would include to solve these issues:

1) Testimonies would be stored as records. Renditions of the appropriate documents would be generated with irrelevant parts redacted. These renditions would be readily available to all parties (including jury).

2) Video would be stored as records as well. Clips of the video could be generated from the source and the clips would be readily available to all parties. Interestingly, the other parts of the DVD that were not relevant were not redacted prior to us viewing it. Not sure if this was due to lack of technology and the redaction was not required.

3) Having a 3-D representation of the street, building, and person would be helpful for all parties to see. Creating this would obviously take some time, but there has to be some simple tools out there to do this. Just take a look at the 3-D tools that major home improvement stores provide to help customers build a 3-D view of their kitchen.

4) This is just simple digital asset management.

I hope that the next time I’m called to be a juror; this kind of technology will be made available to the court. I can personally say that a few hours can be saved from both the trial and deliberation part of the case.

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3 responses to “Call of Duty – Jury Duty that is

  1. Hi Johnny,
    I worked to build an ECM solution within a judicial system (in my country, not in USA). Even basic IT is difficult to place here due to extreme conservatory views.
    We currently have a system to manage court records and electronically issue subpoenas and such… We even tried out a system to record the proceedings and to provide witness testimony via video (and to redact the video in real-time to anonymize the witness). As we speak these are partially implemented or planned.
    A lot of emphasis is to have all electronic records secure, authenticated and proved to be not-altered in any means. This gives quite a lot of headaches when requiring fast access and enhanced usability.

  2. Hi lopataru,
    Thank you responding to my post. Its nice to know that other countries are making initial effort to tackle some of these IT problems in the judiciary field. From my perspective, I think the security and authenticity can be solved by applying retention policies on content and using IRM for access. I do agree with you that usability is probably the biggest issue. You would almost need to come up with an app of its own to manage access to trial evidence between judge, prosecutor, defense attorney and jurors. Would be interested to know if anyone has already done this,

  3. Interesting! I have a feeling that the people in the judicial don’t have much interest in being more efficiant (they charge by the hour and don’t seams to care about other loosing their time! No?). But maybe the big saler would be search capability they would get out of such system to be able to find evidence and testemonial. It’s all about ROI, right?!

    Cheers

    Alain

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