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Videoconferencing for courtrooms

By Kim Neeson

Out-of-town witnesses or counsel can now avail themselves of appearing virtually in Toronto's downtown courthouses.

While we may not yet have much technology in Ontario's courthouses, a few courtrooms in Toronto, used by the Commercial List, have now been equipped with videoconferencing thanks to the installation of CourtCall. Originally contemplated to facilitate lawyers appearing before the court virtually as a convenience, particularly on short matters, Neesons has assisted our clients in using CourtCall for another purpose: bringing not just out-of-town, but out-of-country and out-of-continent witnesses into the courtroom.

Simple solution

As the system stands in the courtroom, you will find the following:

  • Hardwired connection for CourtCall (it is an internet-based solution)
  • Hardwired phone in speaker mode is used for audio
  • One large screen set slightly behind the witness stand for viewing the virtual participant

This setup makes sense for short appearances by counsel on motions or other attendances. However, given the screen setup, your neck would be hard-pressed to endure hours of questioning at an angle!

Enhanced Neesons solution

With some added technology, your virtual witness can feel as if she is there, in the room.

  • Each counsel table and the judge has a monitor set up for viewing
  • A monitor is placed in front of the dais so that the witness is able to see the questioning counsel and the other front counsel tables - you can literally see the whites of the witness' eyes!
  • Additional cameras are added for multiple viewpoints

Recently, Neesons employed this technology in a case before Justice Lederer, where over 15 witnesses appeared via videoconference with ease.

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