Former judges to evaluate effect of camera in court

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Four former judges have agreed to help evaluate the impact of the placement of a camera used to webcast court proceedings on those participating in a trial.

It’s part of the ongoing pilot project approved by the Indiana Supreme Court involving the Lake County Circuit Court of Judge George Paras.

The Times (Munster) installed the camera and coordinated the delayed webcasting of court activity at www.nwi.com/digital/video/lake-county-court.

Organizers hope the project will generate information that will help guide the Supreme Court on future rules concerning the permissibility of cameras in trial courtrooms across Indiana.

In addition to Paras and The Times, the Hoosier State Press Association and Valparaiso University Law School were involved in the implementation of the project.

The law school has developed questionnaires for Paras and attorneys who have a case webcast to evaluate whether the cameras impact the behavior of the judge, attorneys, witnesses or jurors.

The former judges will observe selected trials and evaluate whether the presence of the wall-mounted camera effects the proceedings.

The evaluation panel includes Lorenzo Arredondo, Raymond Kickbush, Thomas Webber and Steven King. All were formerly judges in Lake or Porter counties.

Arredondo, Paras’ predecessor in Lake County Circuit Court, has agreed to serve as coordinator between the court and the evaluation panel to determine when a trial is occurring that one of the former judges can attend to conduct the evaluation.

Bruce Berner, professor of law at Valparaiso University, is heading up the faculty team conducting the evaluation.

The Hoosier State Press Association Foundation has provided a $2,000 grant to fund the judicial portion of the evaluation process.

The request for the webcasting project was submitted in 2009. The Hoosier State Press Association, Lake County Bar Association, The Times and then-Judge Arredondo made the proposal.

The state Supreme Court approved the 18-month project on Jan. 27, 2012.