8 J. Int't Com. L. & Tech. 24 (2013)
Private Attorney-Client Communications and the Effect of Videoconferencing in the Courtroom

handle is hein.journals/jcolate8 and id is 24 raw text is: JICLT
journal of International Commercal Law and Technology
Vol. 8, No.1 (2013)
Private Attorney- Client Communications and the
Effect of Videoconferencing in the Courtroom
Eric T. Bellone *
Assistant Professor of Government and Applied Legal Studies
Suffolk University
ebellone (2suffolk.edu
Abstract: Courts are experimenting with new technologies in response to
increasingly crowded dockets.  Videoconferencing is being increasingly employed to
streamline legal proceedings and provide the accused greater access to justice. The use of
videoconferencing has spread through the federal and state court systems. While no
criminal trial has been conducted entirely by videoconferencing, it has been used in
arraignments, bail, sentencing, and   post-conviction  hearings.   The   impact of
videoconferencing technology on the legal process, however, has yet to be measured in any
systematic way. Of prime concern is the impact of this technology on the attorney/client
relationship and their private communications. Critics argue the use of videoconferencing
calls into question the ability of attorneys and clients to communicate effectively,
undermining effective representation by counsel. In this first of its kind study, this article
examines the impact of videoconferencing on private communications and the wider
implications of the impacts of technology on civil liberties. Through a marriage of social
scientific and legal analysis, videoconference private communications are analysed with
empirical data and conclude with a discussion of how the negative aspects of
videoconferencing can be lessened, avoided, and/or remedied.
1. Introduction
In recent years, courts have increasingly turned to videoconferencing as they struggle to balance large
caseloads and limited resources.' Although scant data is available on its actual use, it is clearly being
used in courts across the country in a variety of criminal proceedings, particularly to connect out of court
defendants with their attorney in the courtroom.2   The impact of videoconferencing on private
communications between attorneys and clients has yet to be systematically studied. The essential
question is does videoconferencing dilute constitutional guarantees to legal counsel or by limiting
communication between defines attorney and client?
A trusting and thorough communication, both direct and nuanced, between attorney and client must
be established and maintained in order for justice to be served.3 It is important to examine the expansion
* B.S., University of Massachusetts at Lowell, 1985; B.A., University of Massachusetts at Lowell, 1987; J.D.
University of New Hampshire Law School (Franklin Pierce Law Center) 1991; Northeastern University, Doctoral
Candidate, Law and Public Policy, 2010. The author would like to thank Heather Monahan and Thomas Koenig.
1 Aaron Haas, Videoconferencing in Immigration Proceedings, 5 PIERCE L. REV. 59, 61-62 (2006). (The author states
videoconferencing violate a number of important rights that are fundamental to our concepts of justice: the right to be
present in court, the right to confront witnesses and evidence against you, and the right to effective representation by
an attorney.). Emphasis added.
2 Zachary M. Hillman, Pleading Guilty and Video Teleconference: Is a Defendant Constitutionally Present when
Pleading Guilty by Video Teleconference. 7 J. HIGH TECH. L. 41, 41 (2007). (As the author notes. courtrooms around
the country are not perceived as fertile grounds for the use of new technology.).
See Alexandra Natapoff, Speechless: The Silencing of Criminal Defendants. 80 N.Y.U.L. REV. 1449. 1452. 1469
(2005) (Anything that disrupts the free flow of private communications between attorney and client effectively
silence the defendant. ... speech is the constitutionally celebrated vehicle by which defendants have their day in
court enforce or waive their constitutional rights, tell their stories to the jury. persuade the judge of proper
punishment, and communicate with their constitutionally guaranteed counsel. ). Emphasis added.
24

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