For the first time in Georgia, a trial judge has allowed web video conference trial testimony from an out of state witness via Skype.
Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson allowed Skype testimony of a defense witness in the criminal prosecution of a tractor trailer driver from Texas who was caught in Douglas County with 95 kilos of cocaine concealed in a secret compartment of his truck. The image of the witness was projected on a nearly life size flat screen in the courtroom.
Despite the testimony of the defense witness, Juan Salazar was convicted of cocaine trafficking. Emerson sentenced Salazar, 35, to serve 30 years of a 33-year sentence.
Judge Emerson has been an early adopter of new technologies in court since he was elected to Douglas County Superior Court in 1992. He will become the president-elect of the Georgia Council of Superior Court Judges on May 1, and I will become president of the State Bar of Georgia on June 4. I’ve known Judge Emerson since we were "baby lawyers" in Douglasville in the mid-1970s. We have been brainstorming in recent weeks about how to advance uses of technology in Georgia courts in years to come.
Ken Shigley is also president-elect of the State Bar of Georgia. He is also author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice and a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has been listed as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), among the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He practices law at the Atlanta law firm of Chambers, Aholt & Rickard, and has broad experience in catastrophic personal injury, spinal cord injury, wrongful death, products liability, brain injury and burn injury cases. This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.