Victoria looks at virtual courts
Victoria is testing virtual courtroom technology after pandemic forced sessions to be suspended.
Supreme Court chief justice Anne Ferguson has announced e-court pilot projects while postponing committal hearings across the state for at least the next seven weeks.
The suspension covers all new jury trials in the Supreme Court and County Court, as well as the empanelling of jurors.
“In both the criminal and civil courts, we are rapidly moving to a position where appearances will be managed through the electronic and digital environment,” chief justice Ferguson said.
“Not all courts have the technical capability yet, but considerable work is underway to build that as soon as possible.”
The virtual court trials will kick off “immediately” in Victorian courts and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
The first step is to ensure judges, lawyers and defendants can link-up remotely, but the technology will be “scaled up to meet the changing needs of the sector”, chief justice Ferguson said.
“The situation is fluid and moving fast and while we cannot predict what may happen with COVID-19 in the immediate future we will continue to move to a more agile and flexible environment,” she said.
There are no details yet on which video conferencing software and other technologies will be tested.