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Virtual Courtrooms – Considerations and Solutions

Posted on 6/14/2020 7:00:00 PM by Legrand AV Team



For those with no legal needs, it might be easy to overlook the booming demand forming for virtual court solutions. While those dealing with legal situations, may be able to think of nothing else as they wait and wait. Courts have been forced to severely prioritize their time since the pandemic onset. The translation of this impact on the community is felt at all levels. While you may immediately be picturing a Law and Order episode, the real bread and butter demand for continuity is at the family court level with things like processing divorces, child support, and custody issues. Lawmakers are seeking ways to get back to business as usual through the integration of AV technology to connect legal professionals and conduct virtual hearings.

Explore these basic considerations for establishing a virtual courtroom AV setup:

Consider Who Will Be Using the Equipment

The ultimate goal of going virtual is to mimic the experience of a physical courtroom as closely as possible. To do so, it’s logical to start with who is participating. Consider participation at a few different levels: Who is on camera? Who is speaking? Who is setting up the equipment?

“There is a dramatically different set of needs with a virtual courtroom where the only participants are employees of the court system versus when there will be potential litigants or other support staff involved in the virtual courtroom,” Legrand | AV Solutions Engineering Manager Brian Retzlaff said.

Begin by asking simple questions like, how many people need to be in the room at one time? How many people will be using the equipment? Will it be by employees only, or will legal professionals also be using the courtroom equipment?

Mapping out the basics of how many people and the functionality requirements for each person is critical to selecting microphones, video cameras, displays, speakers, and furniture.

Lawyer writing documents

Consider the Physical Space

Once you’ve figured out the Who and the What you need to solve for the Where. The physical space can have a direct impact on the acoustics, and clarity of sound is absolutely essential for courtrooms.

Large, open courtrooms repurposed for a virtual solution will require the audio system (sometimes preexisting) to support echo cancellation. After all, these events used to have an audience to help absorb all the sound. 

As far as providing quality video, professional PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) cameras provide an optimal experience for all parties.

“Courts are always looking for something easy to install and simple to use. They also look for things that can be changed up if needed. Cameras that can PTZ, or displays that can move,” noted Legrand | AV Territory Sales Manager Keri Manasa.

An Immediate Fix vs. A Permanent Solution

Some of the very first articles on this topic depicted a laptop on a table and a zoom conference. It doesn’t get much more stop-gap than that! Since then, so many have discovered the real technical limitations of such a setup, all while coming to the harsh realization that as a society and how we gathered before, will be forever changed. It’s time to consider hybrid solutions for spaces like classrooms, doctor’s offices and, in this case, courtrooms that are prepped with the technology to provide an amazing in person OR virtual experience.

“We are getting a lot of interest in our simple video conferencing cart. It’s certainly better than the laptop and gives users the flexibility to manage many of the deployments and situations a virtual courtroom would need,” Retzlaff said.

This pandemic created a timeline of its own. Driving many legislators to make these decisions quicker than many would like, but Legrand | AV is here to help you through the process.

If you have additional questions, Retzlaff advises communicating with another court facility with an existing AV setup, or a local integrator who can sort through the details. Of course, our experts at Legrand | AV are always ready and willing to help you get started.

“Seeking advice from experts and then trusting that advice is a great place to start,” Retzlaff said.

At Legrand | AV, we are dedicated to keeping people connected no matter where they are. If you have any video conferencing, live streaming or connectivity questions, our solutions engineers are ready to help. Email us at av.solutions@legrand.com with the details of your project. For more of the latest COVID-19 information, please access the FAQs at www.legrandav.com/COVID