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Courtroom Technology in the District of Minnesota

The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota has evidence presentation systems installed in nine of its courtrooms. Its courtroom technology guide posted here, provides a good account of how courtrooms can be set up to facilitate electronic presentations for trials.

Keep in mind these points when preparing presentations for trials taking place in the District of Minnesota, or elsewhere. Courts that have taken the time to think carefully about electronic presentations will follow the lead of the District of Minnesota.

1. The Court's information services department will provide training upon request.

2. A control panel for the audio/visual system, and a document camera (or ELMO) will be stored on an evidence presentation or Nomad cart that can be moved around the courtroom if necessary.

3. The Nomad cart should have video and audio cables. The District of Minnesota uses a VGA cable and a 3.5 mm male to male stereo audio cable. You will need to determine if your laptop needs converters for these cables.

4. The control panel is used to switch between a laptop, a VCR, a DVD player, a cassette player, or the document camera. It can also be used to adjust the volume of the audio system and modify the settings on the ELMO.

5. The ELMO should have a 'freeze' button, which will allow the image shown on the courtroom monitors to be fixed, while the next hard copy document is positioned for display.

6. Look to see if the ELMO has a preview screen which will indicate how the image will look when presented to the jury.

7. Some ELMOs use a laser to assist with the centering of a document.

8. The presentation cart, the judge, and the witness stand will have annotation monitors which allow for lines, drawings, words, or other marks to be made on displayed documents or other images with a fingertip. In the District of Minnesota, the annotation color is changed by tapping on the upper left; annotations are cleared by tapping on the lower left; and annotations are undone by tapping on the upper right.

9. The podium contains a smaller version of the control panel which has the same functionality.

10. Portable microphones are available.

11. The audio system can use white noise to ensure the confidentiality of side bar conversations.

12. A laptop's display settings may have to be adjusted for the courtroom monitors. The District of Minnesota uses 1024 X 768 pixels with a minimum 60 Hz refresh rate.

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