Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Ohio Courts Participate in National Videoconference Project to Save Time, Money

A cost-savings project is connecting dozens of courts to each other. It’s called the National Court-to-Court Videoconferencing Project, and it allows courts to conduct services from almost anywhere across the United States.

The project’s first video link connected a South Dakota court to one in Wisconsin in 2009. Now there are more than 40 courts, including in Ohio, sharing their video systems with each other for court-related purposes.

Julie Koehne works in Cincinnati as the systems and reference librarian for the Hamilton County Law Library. She said the county has provided video conferencing services since 2006, but joined the national videoconferencing project in 2011.

“We saw this as a great opportunity to provide a service to our county and region with the idea of a cooperative network willing to share their videoconferencing systems with each other,” Koehne said.

Ohio courts participating in the nationwide program include the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Greene County Court of Common Pleas, and Willoughby Municipal Court. Koehn said the local court system benefits from the project because it saves the county money and makes the courts more efficient.

“In some cases when an inmate is in another facility it typically would take two deputies to pick the inmate up and bring them to our county, have the inmate stay overnight at the Hamilton County Jail for a 15 minute audience with the court, and then take them back to their home facility,” Koehne said. “Now, it takes a phone call to the remote facility to have the inmate walk to their video room, sit down for 15 minutes and talk with the court via video conferencing, and then go back to their holding area.”

Karl Thoennes, court administrator at the Second Judicial Circuit in South Dakota, spear-headed the project.

“While videoconferencing is a relatively common practice now, little work has been done in the past to connect courts to each other and share video systems across state lines,” Thoennes said.

Thoennes said the project continues to grow and has now expanded on a global level with recent video links connecting courts to Sweden, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Sri Lanka.