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Monday, November 12, 2018

Municipal Court sets up video advisements with Adams County

Municipal Court sets up video advisements with Adams County

It’s 3:30 p.m. at the Westminster Municipal Court and it’s time for the initial advisements for inmates held at the Adams County jail. However, these advisements are held not in person, but via the new videoconference system.

“We wanted to enhance the existing security process in our building and reduce the amount of prisoner transport that the Westminster Police Department has to do,” said Court Administrator Patricia Kmitta. “We could have anywhere from one to 12 people transported any given day by the police department that we won’t have to do now for their first advisement.”

Installed the first week of October, the videoconference system also results in less prisoner intakes/outtakes, less paperwork for the officers and a more streamlined advisement process. Also, the safety in the courthouse is improved when defendants appear remotely, instead of in person, where some have become disruptive in the courtroom or even attempted to escape.

In addition, paperwork related to these cases can be signed at Adams County and then securely transmitted to the Municipal Court.

“We can do about 5-7 advisements during that hour, so we have learned to be very efficient during that time,” said Municipal Judge Tiffany Sorice.

The system shows a room in the Adams County jail where the public defender and inmate can talk with either Judge Sorice or Assistant Municipal Court Judge Candyce Cline and the city prosecutor. The video camera on the city’s end broadcasts the judge and city prosecutor as they discuss the case and next steps. All proceedings are securely recorded.

The city coordinated with the public defenders, city prosecutors, and city staff to make sure they all felt comfortable using a videoconference system. Since the video advisement window is daily Monday through Thursday from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m., staff had to block off this time exclusively for Adams County and reschedule around it, as needed.

Set up in courtroom B, the videoconference system was installed and configured by IT Systems Administrator Doug Drake.

“We purchased the equipment and worked with Adams County staff to resolve all the network, routing and security issues,” said Drake. “The first day worked perfectly and we haven’t had any issues with it.”

 “In the future, we hope to implement the same system with Jefferson and other counties as well,” said Kmitta. “We’ve been very happy and optimistic about this system and the improvements it has made to the court’s processes.”

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