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Listen Helps Give Lawyers The Edge In Trial Prep

Instant Video Replay is a company that facilitates training and focus group research for law firms and other organizations. The firm is often called upon to organize “mock trials” for lawyers. Mock trials give lawyers the benefit of watching and listening to jury deliberations, which are closed in actual trials. This gives them an understanding of the thought process used by jurors in reaching decisions. Instant Video Replay sets up focus group or “mock-jury” so lawyers can practice their technique outside the courtroom. When the “jury” goes to deliberate, the lawyers can watch the discussion on closed circuit television. Instant Video Replay often has several juries for each mock trial, thereby giving a law firm feedback from multiple groups rather than a single panel.
 
Instant Video Replay was faced with the challenge of getting all of this valuable information to the ears of the lawyers. Legal teams were forced to crowd around televisions in order to hear the discussions. When lawyers wanted to hear another group’s discussion, they would have to physically move to a different monitor or different room.
 
Listen wireless audio provided a solution. Now, Instant Video Replay sets up the televisions along with LT-800 Stationary Transmitters and signs indicating the wireless audio’s channel for each television and signs indicating which channel the audio for that particular set is being broadcast on. Each lawyer then has a Listen LR-500 Programmable Receiver with earphones, and simply tunes to the audio channel for the television they are viewing. They can just adjust the volume to a comfortable level and sit in any part of the room — no more huddling around a television trying to decipher what is being said.
 
“The lawyers love them,” says Helen Knox of Instant Video Replay. “Once they have the headsets, there is no going back. I even have other law firms and companies call me to ask me about the ‘wireless system I heard Instant Video Replay is using’.”
 
Law firms, market focus groups, law enforcement agencies and any other organization that utilizes remote monitoring for educational purposes can use the Listen products in the same way. Wireless audio provides new flexibility and functionality for training, marketing research, and many other applications.

Language Interpretation Is Easy for Oregon Judicial

Things can get complicated in court, especially in a trial with seven young co-defendants. The confusion compounds when the court’s English must be translated into three other languages – simultaneously.
 
That’s the scenario that the Oregon Judicial Department faced recently when seven youths were on trial for alleged rioting. One of the defendants spoke only Spanish, one set of parents spoke only Marshallese and another set spoke only Truukese. The court’s dilemma was to find a way to move the proceedings along without having to wait for three translations each time someone spoke.
 
Enter Listen Technologies Corporation language interpretation system. This product allows interpreters in remote locations to speak into wireless microphones, transmitting their words directly to the defendant. When the defendants answer questions, their words are funneled back through the interpreter into open court. Listen’s easy push-button frequency adjustments allow the court to set frequencies so that two interpreters speaking in different languages can use them at the same time.
 
“Without the Listen equipment, we would either have to have a technician there with us, or we would not have been able to do three languages at once at all,” said James B. Comstock, the interpreter supervisor for the Oregon Judicial Department and an interpreter himself. “I love the Listen transmission and its easy frequency changing.”
 
The systems are permanently installed in seven Oregon courts where they are used daily. A separate portable system goes with Comstock or other interpreters when they travel to remote courtrooms.
 
The Listen system uses FM technology to transmit the spoken word from the interpreter directly
to the listener. The interpreter speaks into a microphone and a transmitter sends the signal to the small battery-powered receivers worn by the defendants. A headset or ear bud carries the sound to the defendant’s ears.
 
With the Listen system, the interpreter does not have to sit near the defendant. Comstock said that is good for two reasons.
 
“The wireless equipment lets the interpreters sit as far away from the defendants as they want to,” he said. “It’s safer for the interpreter, and more pleasant, since defendants can also have hygiene issues. It also does not project an incorrect perception to the jurors that the interpreters are helpers or sympathetic to the defendants.”
 
Comstock also likes the Listen system for what he called relay interpretation. In one case, when one defendant spoke only a pre-Columbian language known as Mixteco, and no interpreters were available who spoke both Mixteco and English, a third language had to be looped in. So the defendant spoke Mixteco into his microphone, which was wirelessly transmitted to a Mixteco speaker who translated into Spanish. That was wirelessly transmitted to a third person, who interpreted for the court from Spanish into English. Again, all of it was done simultaneously, and from remote locations.
 
“That way, there weren’t three people talking all at the same time in a confined area, which can get very loud and confusing,” Comstock said. “The interpreters or the defendants can speak very quietly into the microphones.”
 
Comstock was able to change frequencies by pushing buttons, rather than calling in a technician to reprogram the transmitters to use separate frequencies.
 
Comstock said the ease of changing frequencies made the otherwise complex interpretation relay simple. The frequency agility also comes in handy in courthouses because they often share buildings or are in close proximity with Sheriff’s offices that have large powerful transmitters atop their buildings for contact with officers in their cars. When the frequencies conflict, Comstock pushes a few buttons and sets up on a new frequency, and he’s ready to go. “I’m very pleased with the Listen system,” Comstock said.
 
For more information regarding Listen products, visit their Web site at www.listentech.com.

HLAA Perspectives on Jury Duty

As people with hearing loss we can be excused from jury duty. But is that what we want to do or should be doing? We have fought long and hard for our rights to access in all aspects of society. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title II that covers courts requires that accommodations be made for us to serve. Why fight for these rights if we don’t have the confidence to use them? Not to mention our civic duty.
 
Interestingly not all people with hearing loss react in the same way or in ways that I would have expected. A spirited discussion on this topic ensued on the HLAA Chapter leaders’ listserv. Opinions varied from not feeling confident to serve because of not being able to follow the proceedings and that we should be concerned about what is right for the victim, not for us, to as long as we are provided with the right accommodations we should fulfill our civic responsibilities.
 
One HLAA leader said, “I have never been called to jury duty, but have always felt that I would say ‘yes,’ if I was asked. My brain is just as good as anyone else’s if I have the accommodations I need to hear in any environment.” Another leader added, “To my amazement, a very proactive judge asked me directly during preliminary jury selections, “just what accommodations do you need in order to be a successful juror?”
 
And yet another, “I simply requested ADA/CART accommodations…only to get a postcard in the mail that I was deferred and off the hook. Just like that. They just didn’t want to deal with me, nor did they want the expense…I’m sure.”
 
And from a leader who was less supportive of serving, “My point is that there are times those of us with hearing loss can prove we are a vital part of society…but even though it is our right to do so…this is not the time to prove anything.”
 
While it is true we have a civic right to serve as jurors, it is also correct that we must be armed with the knowledge of how to approach it correctly. We should begin by understanding how the court system works, what are the qualifications of a juror, what is expected of a juror, and what takes place in the courtroom during the different types of trials.
 
As soon as we are called we should contact the court administrator of our court system to request the accommodations that we need in order to serve. We should know what technology and services we need and ask for them up front so that there is plenty of time to advocate and have everything in place, if not for this time, for next. There is no point showing up and expecting that accommodations be made at the last minute. Nor should we assume that the court administrator will know what we need.
 
More Comments
“The key would be to request exactly what I need, and proceed to get it as a right rather than as a favor. I would want to hear and read the proceedings to the best of my ability, and expect that I would be no better or no worse than other jurors with perfect hearing. I would request both captioning and an audio system of some kind. It would be a chance to educate many people and I would accept that challenge. That’s how I feel. I have never been called to jury duty, so cannot speak from experience.”
 
“I do agree that we should not get ourselves excused because of our hearing loss. I feel it is our right as citizens to serve. I will attempt to speak to the person in charge of ADA accommodations in my local court. I am not sure of how to ask for the correct accommodations and welcome any advice. In the past I told them when I arrived and brought my own FM system. But this is not having the court provide the accommodations as required by law.”
 
Leaving the education about accessibility accommodations to when you go to the court is a prescription for failure. You must notify the court administrator immediately when you get the summons to serve as it may take time to set everything up and have it in place in time.
 
If serving on a jury is the first time you have been in a courtroom you might want to attend a trial to see what it is like. Civil cases may be easier to understand as it is almost one-on-one. But more serious cases affect a person’s life by declaring someone to be guilty or not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. These trials are more complex and could be confusing.
 
A verdict of guilty or not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is a huge responsibility. We certainly want to have all the information to make that decision. Juries have freed guilty parties and innocent people have been convicted. As one HLAA leader noted, “The recent results in Texas where DNA is being actively pursued to free many wrongly convicted people is a shocking validation that basing justice on a jury by 12 peers (even hearing ones) isn’t perfect.”
 
Given that 36 million Americans have hearing loss and given that 75 percent of people who could benefit from a hearing aid do not get one, it is highly likely that there are people on a jury who have a hearing loss but have not yet admitted it or done anything about it. That could be more problematic than someone serving who knows and admits to a hearing loss and has taken action to accommodate it.
 
Please Tell Us What You Would Do
What are you going to do if you are called to serve on a jury? Are you going to request accommodations and take the time to educate the court administrator and/or judge about what you need so that you can serve, or are you going to ask to be excused?

Interpreter Ruling: Georgia State Supreme Court Ruling

On Monday, November 22 the Georgia Supreme Court ruling granted a new trial to a Malaysian woman because she was denied the right to a court interpreter.

I think this is important information for the AV industry to be aware of. At EDI Ltd. we often use the Listen Technologies systems as interpreter systems in courts.  However, I have had more than one judge tell me that they don’t need or use interpreters in their courts, that if someone doesn’t speak English it isn’t the court’s problem. 

This ruling now makes it the court’s problem.  I will be mentioning this ruling to judges when I talk to them about assistive listening and interpretation systems.  

Bill Rankin wrote a story on the ruling for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
 

Court says interpreter necessary, overturns conviction

Legal rights groups are applauding a Georgia Supreme Court ruling Monday that granted a new trial to a Malaysian woman because she was denied the right to a court interpreter.

In a 4-3 ruling, the court overturned the child-cruelty conviction against Annie Ling, a Mandarin Chinese-speaking defendant who was sentenced in 2007 in Spalding County to 10 years in prison.  The majority said that “one who cannot communicate effectively in English may be effectively incompetent to proceed in a criminal matter and rendered effectively absent at trial if no interpreter is provided.”

Ling’s appeal was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia and the Legal Aid Society, which filed a brief saying the denial of interpreters to those who need them violates the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws. The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, represented by the Atlanta firm King & Spalding, also filed a brief in support of Ling’s appeal.

“The court acknowledged that we don’t have two systems of justice in this country – one for English-speakers and another for everyone else,” said Azadeh Shahshahani of the ACLU of Georgia. “The constitutional guarantee of due process applies to everyone in this country, not just fluent English-speakers.”

 

Remote Courtroom Language Interpretation

You will find Listen Technologies products at work in some very impressive settings. But there is one venue where I hope you NEVER have to experience the capabilities of Listen Technologies first hand – a courtroom!  ExhibitOne is one of the country’s leading A/V integrator for federal, state and local courts. We recently introduced our patent pending Virtual Court Interpreter System™ – (VCIS™).
 
At any given time, in any given courtroom a court system must provide language translation services when needed.   Problem is, most courts don’t have enough staff interpreters to go around – let alone cover all of the different languages that might be spoken. To bridge that gap courts will typically either outsource to translation companies, utilize a telephonic interpreter service or a combination of the two. With any frequency of use, either or both become very expensive propositions.
 
That’s where ExhibitOne’s VCIS and Listen Technologies come in. Through telephone and web connectivity, VCIS enables remotely located staff interpreters to instantly enter any courtroom, provide their translation services and then instantly move onto the next courtroom – regardless of where it is located. Travel down-time is eliminated. No delays. No travel costs. No premium rates from outsourced providers.
 
Listen Technologies is a core component of VCIS. We utilize Listen’s 4-Channel IR transmitter/receiver and wireless FM microphone transmitter/receiver with the headset microphone combination. The interpreter dials into the courtroom via an audio conference built into our system. The defendant utilizes the headset to hear the interpreter’s translation into their native language and to speak to the court through the interpreter. The interpreter can then switch between addressing the defendant in their native language through his/her headset and providing translation in English to the court over the courtroom’s speaker system.
 
If the client has an attorney, the attorney may need translation services before, during or after a proceeding.   In this case the attorney uses a second transmitter/receiver microphone and listen assist system and the translator selects a private mode to provide two-way translation to the headsets of just the defendant and attorney.
 
The system is awesome to see and hear in action. But trust us. It’s something you don’t need to experience for yourself.
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