Some judges slow to adopt technology in the courtroom

Ken Richmond, a Philadelphia attorney, loves his iPad. “It makes for efficiency,” said Richmond. “You don’t have to ask the court for a temporary recess while you shuffle through four boxes of files on the desk to find that one document you were looking for.”

He uploads depositions, takes notes, and swipes through PDFs to make presentations. “It’s that kind of ease and convenience which I think that many judges fail to utilize, for reasons that are beyond me,” said Richmond. He’s gotten funny looks, been forced to turn it off, and even asked to leave. Sometimes he gets to use it, though it all depends on the judge that day. “Not all of the judges are computer literate, and so they all have trouble, some of them, imagining a world without paper,” said Pamela Dembe, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.

She says rules about electronics–whether an iPad or something more conventional–are up to the judge. The same goes for decorum and dress code.  She won’t order her judges to become more tech-friendly.”This will change,” Dembe said. “And it’s not, in my mind, something that absolutely must change right away. There’s room for it to work out slowly.” Dembe, though, is one judge who sees the value in her iPad. “I carry it with me everywhere.”

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