BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Berkeley County Courthouse is using virtual technology to help with jury selections. It’s the only courthouse in South Carolina that is utilizing a virtual jury selection process.
One reason they decided to go with virtual jury selection was to save time during the selection process.
“Not to waste anyone’s time, including the litigants, the trial counsel, solicitor…,” said Berkeley County Clerk of Court Leah Dupree.
Other court houses are only bringing in waves of about 25 jurors at a time, to work through about 200 potential jurors.
That process can take a couple of days. But the system Berkeley County is using bring all the jurors to the courthouse and places them in five separate courtrooms so the process can be completed at once, in about an hour.
“Instead of standing up and staying stationary where you are, you walk to the camera and you say ‘I’m juror number X, Leah Dupree.’ And state the information and answer the question that the judge asks.” ???
Video cameras broadcast the proceedings into each of the courtrooms live.
“I’m very proud of our IT department,” said Dupree. “I called Chris from IT and I told him, I said this is what I want, this is what I need, how much is it going to cost me?”
It was surprisingly inexpensive to add the equipment to the courtrooms – the cost was about $1,500.
Ann Williams is the deputy solicitor for Berkeley County. She says a jury trial last week went very well with the new system.
“It wound up being a very efficient system,” said Williams. “We got the jury picked in a very safe and efficient way. So, it worked out beautifully.”
“I was very skeptical about the system as a defense attorney,” said attorney Beau Seaton. “You want to see the people; you want to be able to almost touch them and really see their body language and that sort of thing. We tried the case last week and we were fortunate that it did work out, despite my skepticism of the process.”
Berkeley County began using virtual jury selection on May 11th and will continue until the South Carolina Supreme Court says they can go back to traditional methods.