Criminal Justice and Videoconferencing Technology: The Remote Defendant
This Article addresses the increasing use of videoconferencing to avoid bringing criminal defendants to court for certain proceedings. Unfortunately, courts use videoconferencing technology to bring criminal defendants to court without carefully evaluating the impact of that practice on the quality of justice. This Article evaluates the implications of using technology to have defendants appear through videoconferencing and argues against the practice. It brings to bear the literature from other fields, particularly communications and social psychology. That body of literature suggests that videoconferencing may have a negative impact on the way the defendant is perceived by those in court as well as the representation the defendant receives and the way in which the defendant experiences the criminal justice system. The author argues that courts should not extend their reliance on videoconferencing further and instead must undertake studies to explore the impact of the technology in criminal proceedings. In addition, the author advocates that the courts take steps to ameliorate the negative impact of videoconferencing through design of videoconferencing systems and training of those who participate in videoconference proceedings. Finally, the author suggests that courts with videoconferencing equipment make it available for communication between incarcerated defendants and their attorneys.
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