Professor Sheryl Jackson of the Queensland University of Technology School of Law has published Court-Provided Trial Technology: Efficiency and Fairness for Criminal Trials, 39 Common Law World Review 219-249 (2010) (Issue No. 3). Here is the abstract:
In Australia, trials conducted as ‘electronic trials’ have ordinarily run with the assistance of commercial service providers, with the associated costs being borne by the parties. However, an innovative approach has been taken by the courts in Queensland. In October 2007 Queensland became the first Australian jurisdiction to develop its own court-provided technology, to facilitate the conduct of an electronic trial. This technology was first used in the conduct of civil trials. The use of the technology in the civil sphere highlighted its benefits and, more significantly, demonstrated the potential to achieve much greater efficiencies. The Queensland courts have now gone further, using the court-provided technology in the high profile criminal trial of R v Hargraves, Hargraves and Stoten, in which the three accused were tried for conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth of Australia of about $3.7 million in tax. This paper explains the technology employed in this case and reports on the perspectives of all of the participants in the process. The representatives for all parties involved in this trial acknowledged, without reservation, that the use of the technology at trial produced considerable overall efficiencies and costs savings. The experience in this trial also demonstrates that the benefits of trial technology for the criminal justice process are greater than those for civil litigation. It shows that, when skilfully employed, trial technology presents opportunities to enhance the fairness of trials for accused persons. The paper urges governments, courts and the judiciary in all jurisdictions to continue their efforts to promote change, and to introduce mechanisms to facilitate more broadly a shift from the entrenched paper-based approach to both criminal and civil procedure to one which embraces more broadly the enormous benefits trial technology has to offer.
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