In a recent article from “Police Chief,” video evidence is described as the “silent witness that speaks for itself,” and that’s nothing but the truth. With the video, images, audio and metadata needed to playback crime scenes, it’s critical that multi-media evidence can be unmistakably seen and heard by the entire courtroom.
Many organizations, homeowners and investigative offices think evidence is safeguarded by investing in best-of-breed surveillance cameras. While it is helpful to have a quality source of evidence, it’s not doing the judge, jury or the case any justice if the courtroom is using a worn-out projectors or older display technologies.
Projecting the Problems
A common consequence of poor projection methods and monitor displays is lost pixel data and, therefore, image quality. Even if a courthouse invests in a higher-end projection system (the best are around $20,000), the forecasted image still passes through the courtroom’s lighting and will be somewhat affected by the various beams. And don’t forget that projection screens inevitably fall victim to discoloration, which also impacts the projected image.
And if you think installing display monitors will close the case, think again. Like most organizations, courthouses don’t have the funding to continuously invest in new or various-sized monitors, so screens that are dated or disproportionate to the video or image’s size will again diminish the pixel resolution and overall quality of the evidence. Undersized monitors also lead to alterations of an object’s size or shape and color changes, which means evidence will still somehow be lost.
So the takeaway is to ensure that any video and image evidence has a resolution that corresponds with the courtroom’s display methods, right? Meh. If a tree falls but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Same type of issue. Presenting high-quality, multi-media evidence is only half the battle. After all, if the jurors can’t see the evidence in question, can it truly impact their decision?
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recommends the “3H” rule: viewers should be no more than three times the height of the picture away from the screen. Unfortunately, many jurors are seated much farther than this to truly witness the evidence on display and make an informed decision.
Ruling Out Evidence Obstructions
If you’re concerned about your courtroom’s technology infrastructure and overall blueprint, you have a few options. Consider surveying frequenting prosecutors, attorneys and even past jurors on their experiences with presenting and ingesting evidence. You should also do some homework on modern courtroom models, the strategies behind the designs and the effectiveness of each.
After conducting this internal audit and researching best practices, have a chat with your court’s trusted IT person and brainstorm budget-friendly ways to implement any necessary structural changes. After all, evidence serves as the retraced footsteps of a crime scene and communities rely on their court systems’ ability to walk justice from the crime scene to the courtroom.
We Want to Hear From You!
Do you think your courtroom needs a make-over? With an unlimited budget, what would you change about it?
Reply in the comments section below or on our Court Solutions showcase page. We read and respond – promise!