Private Attorney- Client Communications and the Effect of Videoconferencing in the Courtroom

Eric T. Bellone


Courts are experimenting with new technologies in response to increasingly crowded dockets.  Videoconferencing is being increasingly employed to streamline legal proceedings and provide the accused greater access to justice.  The use of videoconferencing has spread through the federal and state court systems.  While no criminal trial has been conducted entirely by videoconferencing, it has been used in arraignments, bail, sentencing, and post-conviction hearings.  The impact of videoconferencing technology on the legal process, however, has yet to be measured in any systematic way.  Of prime concern is the impact of this technology on the attorney/client relationship and their private communications.  Critics argue the use of videoconferencing calls into question the ability of attorneys and clients to communicate effectively, undermining effective representation by counsel.   In this first of its kind study, this article examines the impact of videoconferencing on private communications and the wider implications of the impacts of technology on civil liberties.  Through a marriage of social scientific and legal analysis, videoconference private communications are analysed with empirical data and conclude with a discussion of how the negative aspects of videoconferencing can be lessened, avoided, and/or remedied.

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