In the hustle and bustle of these past couple weeks, I
didn’t want to forget to mention a technological breakthrough that
occurred Friday in Bremerton Municipal Court.
A witness took the virtual stand.
To elaborate, Hsushi Yeh, a Tacoma-based ophthalmologist, was
called to the stand to testify to the vision of Mark Lewis. Lewis,
a prominent local jazz musician, was convicted of
obstructing police Monday, in a trial where his vision was
Yeh couldn’t make it to Bremerton, so Judge James Docter
authorized his testimony via Skype. It
was a first for the new Bremerton courthouse
opened last September.
Could this be a sign of things to come? I’m thinking about the
money that could potentially be saved in instances where a witness
wouldn’t have to travel sometimes great distances to testify in
In Port Orchard, Kitsap County’s district court is already
using video appearances from jail so officials don’t have to
transport inmates handcuffed together into court.
Kitsap County District Court Administrator Maury Baker said that
there are “intense conversations,” amongst the judges about
bringing in the capacity to let witnesses testify from afar. He
believes the technology would have great benefits and could start
in less serious legal arenas, like traffic court. For instance,
what if someone from out of state got a ticket here and wanted to
fight it — without having to fly back out here?
From there, it could be expanded, likely as long as attorneys on
both sides of a case agree to it.
“It’s a brave new world,” he said.
Kitsap County Superior Court Administrator Frank Maiocco said at
present, the county’s highest court doesn’t have the technology — a
TV with an internet connection — that would make Skyping a witness
possible. But he acknowledges that courtrooms in the future could
be equipped to make it possible.
Assuming, though, that the judicial powers-that-be are ready for
it, he added.
“The technology has changed,” Maiocco said. “The the question
is, will the culture?”
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