Technicians spent the past week updating the audio/video systems in Madison County courtrooms, but what many people don’t know is the 25th Judicial Circuit has long been a pioneer in video court recording.
Madison County courts were the first in the nation to switch to video for the official record of proceedings in the early 1980s, according to Judge Jean Chenault Logue. Her father, Judge James S. Chenault, was instrumental in making the change, a fact Logue did not know he was recognized for nationwide until she heard a keynote speaker mention it a few years ago at a National Court Technology Conference.
Previously, the judicial system had relied on court reporters who recorded proceedings either by shorthand or stenotype machine.
“It took forever to get a transcript of a trial,” Logue said. Transcripts of court proceedings often are key materials in an appeal, which has to be filed within a certain time period.
A shortage of court reporters also made it difficult to schedule one to cover court proceedings in every one of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
Jefferson Audio Video Systems (JAVS), out of Louisville, installed the first audio/video recording system in Madison County, and the company has become a global leader in courtroom recording technology.
What started in Madison County is now called the “Kentucky model,” which other states and countries have modeled to improve the efficiency of their judicial system, the JAVS website states.
In 2010, Malaysia used the “Kentucky model” to update its judicial system and more than 400 courtrooms in that country use JAVS as the official record, according to the company. The system also is used in courtrooms in Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Mexico,
Logue said a video recording of court proceedings, and especially trials, adds more to the record than a written document.
“How someone looks, their demeanor, how they say something … that has an impact on how people perceive the credibility of the witness,” Logue said.
Video transcripts of trials can be created every day for attorneys to peruse, and appeals can be more quickly filed and resolved, she said.
Also, for the residents of Madison County, the video recording system allows all circuit court trials to be aired over cable TV’s public access channel for people to watch at home.
“It’s an open court, we want the public to see what we’re doing,” Logue said.
25th Judicial Circuit was first in nation to switch official record to video
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