QUINCY — One of the next projects Adams County officials are hoping to fund with American Rescue Plan Act dollars is a series of jury courtroom technology upgrades at the courthouse.
The Adams County Judicial Department is requesting about $200,000 for upgrades that could allow for simplified remote appearances and evidence presentation during trials and hearings.
In a letter to Finance Committee Chairman Bret Austin dated Feb. 10, Circuit Judge Scott Larson said the legal system required significant changes and adaptations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This made remote hearings in civil and criminal court much more common.
After submitting bid proposals, Larson said Nomad Systems was chosen as the vendor at a cost of about $185,000. Another $16,000 would be paid to MAC’s Limited Electrical Contractors to install hardware components and upgrade the electrical system as needed.
Nomad’s proposal would include ceiling-mounted video projectors, fixed video screens, updated ceiling speakers and two mobile audiovisual podiums that can operate the other equipment.
“This bring-your-own-device system alleviates the county from having to purchase and upgrade specific software presentation systems,” Larson wrote. “In two of the three courtrooms, the system will allow for a witness to annotate (or) draw using a touch screen monitor while testifying.”
Adams County Board Chairman Kent Snider said upgrades such as these have been needed for a long time and this is another project made possible through ARPA.
“If we had this a year ago, we would’ve used and it and continued to use it a lot,” Snider said.
The Adams County Judicial Court previously received funding for two mobile Zoom courts consisting of a 65-inch smart TV, a Logitech videoconferencing system, digital camera and Microsoft Surface laptop.
Larson said in the letter that these technology improvements are increasingly necessary and will be a permanent replacement of existing equipment. Mobile Zoom carts also could be used for other non-jury courtrooms.
“In the last few years, most criminal jury trials have presented video from law enforcement in-car cameras and surveillance footage,” Larson wrote. “Civil jury trials use PowerPoint presentations to present to the jurors everything from contracts, emails, and text messages to medical records.”