Video conferencing saves money and time

In a demonstration last week at the Isabella County Courthouse, Trial Court Chief Judge Paul Chamberlain highlighted the benefits of the expanded use of video conferencing technology to create "virtual" courtrooms. Because of the Michigan Supreme Court initiative, prisoners and mental health patients can participate in court hearings without the risks and costs involved in transporting them to court.

The savings generated by video conferencing are substantial. For example, in fiscal year 2014, the Michigan Department of Corrections saved more than $2.6 million because 4,058 "video transports" replaced physical transport of prisoners. Additional savings are garnered by local jurisdictions and those benefits were highlighted in the demonstration, including freeing up deputy sheriffs for other public safety functions instead of transporting prisoners.

Since its launch in 2010, the program has expanded so that high definition video conferencing is installed in at least one circuit, district and probate court in all 83 counties. In 77 counties, every courtroom with an assigned judge is now a "virtual" courtroom as well.

The video conferencing initiative is part of a broader Michigan Supreme Court priority to help local trial courts work smarter by implementing new technology.

Published: Thu, Nov 27, 2014