The Commercial Division Is Rolling Out Cutting-Edge Courtroom Technology
As was recently reported in the New York Law Journal, New York is investing in courtroom technology for the Commercial Division in order to keep up with the demands of commercial trials. These efforts are designed to make trials more cost-effective and efficient for litigants, as well as easier for the judges and jurors to follow.
New York’s Office of Court Administration began by outfitting Commercial Division Justice Saliann Scarpulla’s courtroom with up-to-date technology, including an 86-inch screen to display documents, a podium with a document viewer, and a USB port and smaller screens for the attorneys and the judge. The 86-inch screen allows attorneys to highlight and mark up documents during the course of trial. New software enables attorneys to appear for conferences via Skype over the large screen.[i]
With these innovations come improved accommodations for jurors: the jury box has been expanded so that it is wheelchair accessible and technological assistance is available to jurors who have difficulty seeing or hearing.
In lieu of boxes of documents, jurors will be provided with a flash drive, minimizing the amount of paper used during trials and allowing jurors to review documents more efficiently. Justice Scarpulla explained to the New York Law Journal that this new development allows her to “promise a juror that they’re not going to be here for six months looking through documents.”[ii] As a trial progresses, attorneys have the option to easily scan additional documents to the flash drive. In addition, the courtroom has been wired so that attorneys can use their personal laptops or wireless devices, further obviating the need for extensive paper documents.
This technology also takes into account issues of confidentiality and data privacy. For example, there is a separate USB port that attorneys may use if their (or their clients’) documents are too sensitive for the courthouse’s wireless internet.
As Justice Scarpulla explained, these efforts “give the business community in New York the sense that [the Commercial Division] could compete with the best courts in the world.”[iii] These efforts also offer advantages to clients and jurors in ensuring a more streamlined trial process.
The court system’s plan is to upgrade other Commercial Division courtrooms after any issues with the roll-out in Justice Scarpulla’s courtroom have been addressed.
This is a welcome development for both the public and the bar, and will help cement the Commercial Division’s role as a leading forum for high-stakes commercial disputes.
[i] Susan DeSantis, In an Effort to Be the Premier Court in the World, NY Is Investing in the Commercial Division, New York Law Journal, Oct. 22, 2018, https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2018/10/22/in-an-effort-to-be-the-premier-court-in-the-world-ny-is-investing-in-the-commercial-division/.