Technology in the Court!

27 Jul

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it. The courtroom in the Lincoln Memorial University-Duncan School of Law (LMU-DSOL) is now complete and stands ready for the newest class of law students entering next month. A work in progress for two years, the courtroom is the crowning jewel of the law school’s facilities in Knoxville, Tenn.

The courtroom is equipped to hold actual court and LMU-DSOL Vice President and Dean Sydney A. Beckman has already invited judges in the region to hold court in the facility. The Tennessee Supreme Court has accepted Beckman’s invitation and will open their August 31 session at LMU-DSOL. 

That’s right, Knoxville’s historic Old City Hall building, which was home to storied legal history as the home office for the city’s mayor and law director for decades, will hold court once again. The University had transformed an aging, vacant facility into a state-of-the art center for learning equipped with technology’s most cutting edge tools for teaching.

The restoration of a city landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places was impressive enough to garner the highest praise and awards from preservation groups, yet it was not complete. At that time, the courtroom was a large barren room which had been stripped to the plywood floors and awaiting renovation.  

The view from the jury box when the Courtroom is in court mode.

Flash forward to today and the room is hardly recognizable. The floors have been reinforced and carpeted. Classroom seating for 117 students has been installed. A custom-built mahogany judge’s bench which can accommodate up to five judges sits at the front of the room. A jury box with seating for 12 jury members and the appropriate alternates has been erected to the left of the bench and the prosecution and defense tables sit before the student seating.

Another view from the jury box

One of the most advanced law classrooms in the country, LMU-DSOL’s courtroom can operate in three distinct modes. First, in full classroom mode it features a rotating lectern that can be turned to face three locations. The six large screens in the room can display teaching aids from up to two sources at a time. Full motion tracking is available from the cameras to follow the instructor as they lecture. Like all classrooms at LMU-DSOL, the courtroom includes full Mediasite recording capabilities to capture classes and make them available for student review. Mediasite also allows for the content to be streamed live on the internet and the courtroom is connectable through ITV with LMU classrooms in Harrogate and West Knoxville.

In the courtroom mode, the lectern can be turned 180 degrees to face the bench. With two DVD/VCR combo units available at the podium and audio video control booth, two different exhibits can be displayed at one time. Additionally, the courtroom has the ability to function as a completely paperless court. A document camera can scan and project any document submitted and the sympodium screen allows annotation of materials on both the podium computer and attorney laptops. An ambient noise filter can distort and filter discussion throughout zones of the room including the jury box, allowing attorney-bench conferences without the risk of a jury member overhearing the conference. Media and exhibits may also be routed to the entire courtroom or selected destinations as instructed by the bench. A jury conference room is adjacent to the courtroom to allow for jury deliberation.

The third mode, advanced mode, requires an audio video operator but allows complete control over all cameras and media routing. It can be used for highly specialized presentations or very sensitive court proceedings. The courtroom in any mode is a highly valuable training ground for LMU-DSOL and a unique asset for the legal community of Knoxville.

The technology in the courtroom was planned by Beckman and his administration building off the experiences of the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine which employs many of the same amenities. The system was designed and installed by Nashville audio-visual systems integrator Multi-Media Master’s Inc. Account Manager Keith Martin and Service Manager Ron Randolph spearheaded the project, working closely with Beckman. Multi-Media Masters (M3) is a company that works to produce the best audio-video solutions to meet specific needs. With fast-paced advances in technology, M3 is dedicated to being at the forefront of the audio/visual industry.

 

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