Thursday, November 08, 2007

Court TV

As someone who uses instructional technology on a regular basis, I find the recent media attention to computer upgrades in the federal courtroom at Guantánamo rather ironic in that computer-mediated communication alone is assumed to facilitate learning, deliberation, and justice. Anyone who has ever evaluated teaching with technology knows that the technology is the least important part, and yet the computer podiums, document cameras, and annotated display screens often get all the initial attention.

For example, the military has run an official story, "Technology to help deliver state-of-the-art judicial proceeding," which provided the Guantánamo photo above, and the Flickr site from Public Radio International shows the installation process underway. Actually, formal thinking about these issues goes back to at least 2003, when William and Mary Law School Chancellor Frederick Lederer wrote "The Potential Use of Courtroom Technology in Major Terrorism Cases."

As defendant Omar Khadr approaches his time before the military tribunal, access to his civilian attorney, who has been barred from the case, may be more important than bells-and-whistles courtroom technology, particularly since Khadr was only fifteen years old when he threw the grenade that killed a U.S. soldier and has spent much of his life in custody since then. Some have pointed out that the absence of books on U.S. case law in the much-vaunted Guantánamo library shows a similar lack of attention to the basics.

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