Cleveland's Cuyahoga County may soon implement grand jury video conferencing

Tuesday, June 14 2011

After a test run in outlying towns, the city of Cleveland and its county's constituent municipalities are receiving pressure from prosecutor's offices to implement video conferencing for grand jury testimony.

According to Cleveland.com, two-thirds of the cities and towns in the county use web conferencing technology for grand jury hearings. Rather than requiring police officers to take time out of their jobs simply to state on the record their recollection of a crime, members of the police department can simply be ready 15 minutes before their testimony is necessary. While traditional testimony can often take three or four hours, testimony made by video conference can take less than one hour and doesn't require the use of police vehicles and supplies.

Defense attorneys, however, aren't as enthusiastic about grand jury video conferencing as prosecutors and police departments. Some have indicated that they feel web conferencing doesn't capture the same amount of non-verbal cues as in-person interactions do.

Still , as high-definition cameras, monitors and microphones become more common (as well as real-time video file encoding processes), the act of communicating over the internet is increasingly becoming akin to in-person interaction.