By Norman Peckham

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A computerized system being developed for the UA College of Law's courtroom will soon allow law students to access court documents at the touch of a button.

The computer system, which should be ready by the first of next year, is being added to the college's courtroom to keep up with the pace of technology, said Winton Woods, a University of Arizona law school professor and the head of the computer courtroom project.

"We're in a stage in which computers are just beginning to make their appearance in the courtroom," Woods said.

The move to computerization will also help the college recruit more law students, said Law Dean Thomas Sullivan.

By inserting court documents into the memory banks of computer disks, law students will be able to access the documents at a much faster rate than they are now able to, Woods said.

And law students will also be able to present courtroom evidence in a new way, Woods said.

He said large computer monitors will be installed so people can more easily see evidence being presented in the courtroom.

"Very often in a case, there is a key piece of evidence, such as a document, that is important to the trial," he said. "That document will be able to be displayed on a big screen, (and) a lawyer will be able to circle key words on the document using the visual capabilities of the computer."

Woods also said testimony will appear on the monitors at almost the same time it is being said, allowing deaf people to read the testimony on the monitors.

About 25 computer manufacturers have offered to lend their equipment to the law school, so computerizing the courtroom should not cost the university any money, Woods said.

Computer manufacturers will use the opportunity to "showcase their products," he said.

The UA will be following suit of other law schools with computerized courtrooms, including the Chicago Kent College of Law and the College of William and Mary law school, Woods said.

Judge Richard Bilby's courtroom, at the federal courthouse in downtown Tucson, is also one of three courtrooms across the country that has been computerized.

Generally, law students said they liked the idea.

Guy Fimbres, a third-year law student, said he believed computerizing the courtroom would ensure that students are kept up to date on the latest courtroom technology.

"They're training us about how the courtrooms will be when we practice (law), instead of how they were when our professors practiced," Fimbres said.

"Anything that makes the lawyer's life a little easier, I'm all for it," said Charles Cano, a second-year law student.

"Hopefully, there won't be any computer glitches," he said. Read Next Article