Technology takes center stage in mock trial
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent April 7, 2013 9:17AM
Eric Randall, a deputy prosecutor portraying a witness, talks about where he marked a hallway photograph with an "x" shape on a displayed iPad image during a mock trial demonstration of the Lake County prosecutors office technology use for visiting prosecutors from Pima County, Arizona at the Government Center in Crown Point, Ind. Wednesday April 3, 2013. The prosectors showed how the marked iPad image could then be printed out on the spot. | Stephanie Dowell~ for Sun-Times Media
Cameras were allowed in court last week for a mock trial staged for visiting Arizona officials to showcase how Lake County deputy prosecutors use technology to enhance the presentation of evidence in criminal cases.
Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. allowed prosecutor’s office trial supervisor David Urbanski to take the bench during the mock trial where deputy prosecutors Monica Rogina and Michelle Jatkiewicz used iPads to play recordings and display photos, maps and diagrams on the flat-screen monitor. They also printed a photo that was marked by a witness who pointed out where he was standing when a key witness was threatened by the accused.
The “defendant,” played by Hammond police Detective Daniel Small, aka “Joe Schmoe,” was identified by a witness, “Bambi Boswell,” played by deputy prosecutor Karyn Price-Boswell, as the man who accosted her in the hallway outside the courtroom after she witnessed Schmoe commit a robbery at the Seasons Restaurant.
Video footage of the exchange between Small and Boswell was captured on an iPad by Niki Fitusis, a victim-witness assistant, and played in court after Boswell described the threat Schmoe made to her and her tiny Yorkie named Cita, who belongs to Myron Chenault, the prosecutor’s office technology guru.
The Pima County, Ariz., officials watched from the jury box as a videotaped deposition of InChantid Woods, portrayed by former deputy prosecutor Jamise Perkins, was shown. Woods said she signed an iPad for the subpoena and received a printed copy.
Deputy prosecutor Reginald Marcus asked the judge for permission to use the “newfangled gizmos,” but Jatkiewicz objected. “We’re not obligated to share,” she said. Urbanski denied the request.
Chief deputy prosecutor Barbara McConnell said the office first began using iPads about 18 months ago in court. Before the iPad era photographs were either tacked to poster boards and held up for jurors or passed among them in what frequently was a lengthy process.
Pima County prosecutor’s office representatives who work with technology and support services — John Merritt, Rob Peck and Michael O’Hearn — made a side trip from the American Bar Association technology conference in Chicago to Northwest Indiana to see the technology in use. A former Lake County intern, Nicole Knowlton, had shared her technology experience with them after relocating to the Tucson area.
Peck said the presentation was impressive. “Most prosecutor’s offices typically run on paper,” he said, noting that government seems to be slow to adapt to newer technology. Because of the “CSI effect” from television depictions of how technology is used to solve and prosecute crimes, Peck said juries expect the latest technology.