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Telephone Conferencing in Criminal Court Cases

NCJ Number
University of Miami Law Review Volume: 38 Issue: 4 Dated: (July 1984) Pages: 611-624
R A Hanson; L K E Olson; K L Shuart; M Thornton
Date Published
14 pages
This article highlights essential findings from a pilot project which used telephone conferencing in criminal cases in New Jersey and Colorado and reviews the reaction of judges and attorneys to the innovation.
The criminal court business that was handled included substantive, procedural, and discovery-related matters. The matters heard by telephone conferencing at various stages of criminal process included municipal court appeals, entry of pleas, sentencing, motions, and witness testimony. Specific instances in which telephone conferencing was used are noted; situations in which conferencing proved a suitable alternative to in-person hearings are identified. Considerations in determining where the conference call was to originate are explored, and judges' reactions to the procedure are discussed. Among the advantages they noted was the greater operational efficiency of the court, especially in scheduling flexibility and time savings. The judges indicated that telephone hearings did not sacrifice the rights or interests of criminal defendants. Results of interviews with attorneys indicate that most were satisfied with how telephone hearings were conducted and saw little difference between in-person and telephone hearings. Attorneys acknowledged that they saved much time when hearings were conducted by telephone and felt that telephone hearings offered substantial benefits to their clients. The article concludes that telephone conferencing in criminal cases is a viable option in the overall scheme to increase judicial efficiency. One table and 16 footnotes are included.


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