Recommendations - Information Technology in Complex Criminal Trials
Thsese are the recommendations contained in Greenleaf and Mowbray (1993)
Technology in Complex Criminal Trials  COL 1
The headings below indicate the Chapters in which each Recommendation
may be found.
Ch 2 Key technologies in complex trials - overview
Computing facilities provided to judges for use in chambers, and installed
in courts, should be capable of multi-purpose use, including transmission
and display of text, image and video, and preferably should support colour
displays. Such facilities should be based on open operating systems.
Computers provided to judges for use in chambers should be high quality
microcomputers or workstations capable of running current graphical user
interface (GUI) based operating systems, and with sufficient memory and
storage capacity to run simultaneous memory intensive applications. Such
computers should at least be networked to other computers in a Court system.
If computers are installed in courts for use of judge, counsel, or solicitors,
the same considerations should apply as for computers installed in judges'
chambers. Security aspects of LAN interconnections require different considerations.
Ch 3 Criminal trial computerisation - a survey
There should be developed, as a matter of highest priority, a national
strategy for compatibility of computerised litigation support facilities
between the Australian Securities Commission, the National Crime Authority,
and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. For such a national
strategy to be fully effective, State court administrations should also
cooperate in its development, so that these Commonwealth agencies can effectively
utilise litigation support systems in State courts. Standards which may
be needed, and one possible mechanism for developing such a national strategy,
are recommended in this Report. These mechanisms are secondary to the priority
of developing a national strategy for compatibility.
Ch 4 Transcript - supplying `clean water'
The potential value of `real-time' computer-aided transcription (CAT) in
complex trials could usefully be addressed by Mr Gary Byron in his Report
to the AIJA. on court reporting. If consideration is given to adopting
`real-time CAT' as standard equipment in any courts trying complex crime,
care must be taken to ensure that the hardware and software used is capable
of being used for other purposes, such as image retrieval.
Court reporting services should be encouraged to regard the timely and
reliable provision of transcript in computer-readable form as a high priority
wherever such facilities are not available, or are not available at a reasonable
cost. As a minimum standard, computer-readable transcript should be available
on request in at least standard (ASCII) computerised form, on standard
computer media ( at present 3.5" or 5.25" high density DOS disks), and
available on the same day .
On-line provision of transcript by court reporting services or government
agencies should be encouraged , but is not a high priority.
National standards for the form in which transcript is prepared , with
the aim of facilitating text retrieval., should be developed and published
as a matter of priority. The standards should be developed co-operatively
between the court reporting services and the users of transcript. The standards
should cover such matters as consistent references to exhibits and witnesses,
numbering, text formats and any other matters which will facilitate the
input of transcript into a wide range of retrieval programs. The standards
should also include timeliness and storage media. A national recommendatory
standard is desirable.
Court Reporting Services should be encouraged to develop error and consistency-checking
software such as the Catscan software in use in South Australia, and to
use it to check all transcript which is provided to the courts or the parties
for use in litigation support databases.
A checklist for the evaluation of litigation support software suitable
for Australian trials should be developed and publicised, possibly based
on the ABA's Draft Guidelines for Litigation Support Software.
Courtroom facilities should, where possible, include provision for the
retrieval and display of transcript in as flexible a manner as possible.
Legal aid providers should be encouraged to provide litigation support
facilities on a `bureau' basis to those members of the private profession
acting in criminal trials under legal aid who do not have litigation support
facilities of their own. This matter should be addressed in any future
consideration of the role of legal aid agencies, particularly in light
of the need to provide legal aid to defendants charged with serious crimes.
Departments or agencies responsible for the provision of information technology
to Courts should be encouraged to provide to the parties to trials access
to the litigation support facilities that they develop for Courts. Such
access should be provided on a cost recovery basis where a defendant would
otherwise not have access to equivalent facilities.
Ch 5 Exhibits and other documents - managing paper mountains
As a matter of priority, the key Commonwealth agencies involved in the
investigation and prosecution of complex crime (Commonwealth DPP, ASC and
NCA) should coordinate their use of software, database design, and text
and image formats for document control, free text retrieval, and image
retrieval, to ensure that there is sufficient compatibility to enable prosecuting
agencies to be presented with a `computerised brief' by investigative agencies.
In doing so these agencies should be involved in, and take account of,
the development of national standards concerning these matters, as recommended
in this Report.
All agencies involved in complex criminal trials should be aware of, and
should consider implementing image storage and retrieval of documentary
exhibits. Ideally, such imaging should be integrated with document control
and transcript retrieval systems. The use made of these technologies in
the Rothwells trial in Western Australia, and the Equiticorp trial in New
Zealand should be considered carefully.
Government Departments responsible for court administration should establish
at least one courtroom in a State or Territory which is equipped fully
to conduct a trial in which all dealings with exhibits are through an image
database of exhibits, integrated with a text database for transcript. The
court-provided facilities should include at least all necessary monitors
and cabling, devices to control the distribution of images, and devices
to capture and distribute images of exhibits as presented. The courtroom
facilities used in the Rothwells trial in Western Australia, and the Equiticorp
trial in New Zealand should be considered carefully.
It would be valuable if a detailed case study could be conducted as a follow-up
to this Report, of the uses of document imaging and its integration with
other courtroom technologies, in the Rothwells trial in Western Australia
and the Equiticorp trial in New Zealand. The study should focus on the
identification of all technical lessons which can be learned from these
cases, and a cost-benefit analysis. The AIJA should disseminate the results
of the study.
Ch 6 Co-operation and procedure concerning computerised documents
The proposed requirements that the prosecution may be directed to disclose
copies of statements of witnesses to be called, exhibits intended to be
produced and other documents as directed (as per Victorian Crimes (Fraud)
Bill 1992, cl 13(3)) (Aronson recommendation 10) should be supplemented
by a provision whereby the Court may order that any such copies be provided
as paper copies or in such computer-readable form as the Court may specify.
Either or both forms may be specified for different classes of documents.
Legislation to give Courts a `generalised power to give pre-trial directions'
(Aronson Recommendation 9) will ensure that Courts have adequate powers
to require the parties to use information technology for the efficient
conduct of a trial.
Such powers should include explicit provision for the court to determine,
as a matter of procedure, the form in which documents will be provided
to the court, including any computerised form.
Aronson's recommendation 10(b)(i) that the prosecution may be directed
to provide `a list of exhibits... that the prosecution intends to have
produced at the trial' (as per Victorian Crimes (Fraud) Bill 1992, cl 13(3)(e))
should be supplemented by a provision similar to that in South Australia,
whereby the Court may order that any such list may be ordered to be served
either in typed form `or in such computer-readable form as the Court may
specify, or both'.
Standards should be developed and published by a national co-ordinating
body concerning the format in which images of documents are exchanged,
with the aim of encouraging maximum portability of image databases of exhibits.
Such standards should be recommendatory, not mandatory. DPPs and other
parties should be encouraged to adhere to such standards, and Courts should
take such standards into account when making orders concerning the use
of imaging technology in trials, and in the form of disclosure of exhibits
Similar standards should be developed and observed concerning the format
in which computer-readable text of statements and other documents is exchanged.
Where imaging technology is used to handle the exhibits in a trial, the
jury should be allowed access to the computerised database of exhibits,
and an appropriate retrieval system. The trial judge should ensure that
the retrieval software provided to the jury is sufficiently simple and
`user friendly', so that the jury can effectively retrieve the exhibits
that it needs, and that there is no undue dominance by computer-literate
jurors. The trial judge should also be responsible for ensuring that appropriate
instructions in the use of the retrieval software is given to the jury,
and in a way which does not allow improper access to the jury.
If the jury is provided with access to the full transcript, (as some have
recommended), then it should be able to access that transcript in computerised
form (if facilities to do so are otherwise available). The trial judge
should have the same responsibilities as in relation to exhibits, but should
exercise considerable caution in approving retrieval software for the jury
which allows full free-text retrieval of transcript. Steps must be taken
to remove from the transcript any part of the proceedings that were not
heard before the jury, or to prevent the jury retrieving any part of that
Ch 7 Presentation graphics and summaries - simplifying complex evidence
The use of presentation graphics to simplify evidence is recommended for
use by both prosecution and defence lawyers.
In particular, the use of interactive graphics, and the integration of
such graphics with images of exhibits, are both techniques which are now
available at reasonable cost using standard PC-based equipment. The use
of these techniques by the Commonwealth DPP is a leading Australian example
which is worthy of emulation in appropriate cases.
Adoption of reforms concerning charts and summaries (such as Aronson's
Recommendations 12-14) is desirable to ensure that computer-generated graphics
A provision such as cl 33 of the Commonwealth Evidence Bill 1991 should
be considered in relation to all use of graphics in court, whether the
graphics are admitted in evidence in their own right or not. When exercising
discretion to admit, the court should consider the other party's access
to the necessary software to test any interactive graphics.
The Court, in exercising discretion in admitting computer-generated summaries
as evidence, should take into account the extent to which any lack of access
by the other parties to the computerised data and software used in generating
the summaries may lead to that evidence having prejudicial, misleading
or unfair tendencies or qualities.
Where the prosecution intends to use graphics or summaries in court, it
should consider making available to the defence software or other resources
to assist the defence in presenting its own graphics or summaries.
Governments and legal aid agencies should give consideration to the need
for the defence to have resources available for the preparation of presentation
graphics and summaries.
A provision concerning materials which may be provided to the jury , such
as Victoria's Crimes (Fraud) Bill 1992, cl 21 (as per Aronson Recommendation
17), should be adopted to ensure that copies of charts, summaries etc may
be provided to the jury 'in any form', at the discretion of the judge.
Such a provision should be amended by adding a further category such as
`any aids which allow any of the above materials to be retrieved or displayed
by the jury'. This will ensure that the jury can be provided with the hardware
and software required to retrieve and display documents, charts etc in
computerised form where appropriate.
Ch 8 Improved communication, education, and standards
A national co-ordinating body is needed to disseminate information, experience
and advice concerning the use of information technology by those involved
in criminal trials.
Subject to it obtaining sufficient funds to do so, the Australian Institute
of Judicial Administration (AIJA) should act as the co-ordinating body.
All of the parties involved in the provision of court facilities and the
conduct of trials should be represented on the national co-ordinating body.
An Information Technology Committee (IT Committee) of the AIJA, with suitably
diverse membership, would provide the appropriate representative structure
for the national co-ordinating body.
A small Information Technology Service (IT Service) should be established
as part of the national co-ordinating body, and utilising its administrative
resources. It should carry out all of the functions recommended below (subject
to its budget), except the development of standards, on which matter it
would instead provide expert advice. It should be established with a limited
duration (preferably three years) after which the need for the continuation
of each of its services would be re-assessed. A national resource collection
on Court computerisation should be established, including both international
and Australian resources, accessible to all parties involved in Court computerisation.
A central register of products/technologies which are available to address
specific problems of Court computerisation should be established, including
details of where they may be inspected in operation. It should be available
in print form and as a database. Such a register could be combined with
a 'registration of interest' system.
A national central register of consultants who specialise in various aspects
of Court computerisation, their experience, products supported, reference
sites, etc, should be maintained.
The collection's bibliographic index, the register of technologies and
the register of consultants, should be searchable from anywhere in Australia,
possibly by inclusion as databases in a dial-up system, an/or by distribution
on disk or CD-ROM .
Regular and detailed publications about court computerisation should be
published in a variety of forms, and available to all parties involved
in Court computerisation.
An annual or biennial specialised conference on court computerisation should
be held, open to all parties involved in Court computerisation.
Regular meetings for key personnel involved in court computerisation should
User groups for technologies which have significant use in courts should
be given active encouragement.
The IT Service should operate an electronic `bulletin board' service for
use by all users of court technologies.
Courts, DPPs and other institutions which are identified as sites where
particular products/technologies may be inspected in operation should reach
agreement as to the basis on which other parties may inspect what they
have done. The IT Service should facilitate such access.
The IT Service should cooperate with one or more Law Schools to utilise
computer laboratories for demonstration, teaching and research in the use
of court technologies.
Such court technology laboratories should, where possible, be integrated
with Law School Moot Courts to demonstrate technologies in a courtroom
The IT Service should assist the Association of Litigation Support Managers,
and other interested parties, to develop one or more standard sets of data
relating to complex trials, so as to facilitate demonstration, teaching
or research into the use of document management technologies. It should
publicise and assist in distributing the standard data sets.
The development of courses on computerised litigation support (particularly
post-graduate courses) by tertiary institutions, and of continuing legal
education courses, should be encouraged and assisted.
The IT Service should only provide such consultancy services as the IT
Committee determines are consistent with its other functions. It may provide
consultancy services on a fee-for-service basis. Such services should be
limited to preliminary advice and planning, assistance in identifying a
range of potentially appropriate products and services, and evaluations,
but should not involve system implementation. The development of standards
for database compatibility and court technologies is a matter of high priority.
The proposed IT Committee of the AIJA should encourage the development
of advisory standards to facilitate the maximum portability of data between
different hardware and software used in litigation support, and equipment
compatibility in courtrooms used for criminal trials. The IT Committee
should develop standards itself where appropriate, and in other cases encourage
other bodies to develop such standards. Where appropriate, the AIJA should
adopt and advocate that others adopt such standards.
Such standards should include the following matters - (i) text and image
portability between databases, (ii) marking-up codes for transcript , (iii)
the minimum computer facilities to be provided by court administrations
in courtrooms to be used for complex trials, (iv) courtroom networking
and display devices and (v) other standards as appear desirable from time
to time. Government Departments responsible for court administration should
establish at least one courtroom in a State or Territory which is equipped
fully to conduct a trial in which any dealings with exhibit images, transcript,
presentation of charts or graphs summarising evidence, and remote video
presentation of evidence, is through the use of computerised resources.
Complex criminal trials should have priority in the use of this courtroom
other civil matters.
National advisory standards should be established as to what are the minimum
facilities to be provided in such a courtroom by court administration,
and which facilities are normally to be provided by the prosecution or
defence in a particular trial.
National advisory standards should be established for courtroom networking
and display devices, to assist compatibility of court-provided cabling,
monitors and operating system with prosecution-provided and defence-provided
computer facilities to be used in trials. Such standards will require review
at least annually.