Morris County’s new chief information officer is working on a plan that will greatly expand the use of video conferencing with defendants in jail.
If it goes into effect, John Tugman’s plan will expand the use of video conferencing to include attorney-client conferences and routine court appearances such as arraignments and status conferences.
At present, bail hearings are the only court sessions conducted via video hookups from the Morris County Jail (in Morris Township) to criminal courtrooms at the Morris County Courthouse (in Morristown).
Mr. Tugman expects the county to begin a 30-day test run of the new system before the end of July.
Mr. Tugman’s hope is that the system will prove successful and eventually include not only the Morris County Superior Court, but also municipal courts across the county, including courts in Denville, Dover, Montville, Mount Olive, and Parsippany.
Mary Jo Buchanan, Assistant Morris County Administrator, said that the system will serve two main purposes: (1) to provide jail inmates with better access to courts and attorneys, and (2) to save the taxpayers some money. The county’s budget is impacted by the high cost of transporting inmates from jail to the county courthouse and to municipal courts all over the county.
Even after implementation of the system, trials and major pre-trial hearings will still be conducted with defendants present.
The web-based technology used to facilitate the video conferencing sessions will be similar to Skype, but with security built into it to maintain privacy.
For more information, see the NJ.com article entitled “Courts in Morris to Expand Video Conferencing from Jail.“