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Alaska court's digital recording system to become first in the nation

 

Alaska's state courts will become the first in the nation to move to statewide digital recording.

The Alaska Court System is in the final stages of a project to upgrade recording systems in all courtrooms and grand jury hearing rooms throughout the state. The major innovative component of the upgrade is the installation of digital recording equipment in all superior and district courtrooms and all grand jury hearing rooms. The digital audio recording systems are the final piece to the major renovation of the court's record capture capabilities. The new electronic recording equipment consists of new computer-based digital recorders, amplifiers, speakers, microphones, and record duplication and transcription devices. The new systems are replacing 20-year-old analog tape recording equipment.

In addition to the ability of the equipment to capture a high-quality audio record of court proceedings, the new equipment improves the quality of court proceedings in two significant areas. First, the new equipment works in conjunction with infra-red hearing assistance devices, like those used in theaters, to allow court customers with hearing impairments to participate more fully in court proceedings. Second, the new equipment includes improved connectivity to the court's telephone systems and will significantly improve the audio quality of court proceedings in which litigants appear by telephone.

The new digital system records courtroom proceedings simultaneously on a computer and on a compact disk (CD). This system produces precise time indices that allow instant access to a desired passage without cumbersome and time-consuming rewinding and fast forwarding. In addition, a single CD can hold several days of courtroom recordings compared to the 90 minutes held by a cassette tape.

A demonstration of the new recording, duplicating and transcribing equipment will be held on Tuesday, August 1st at 3:30 p.m. in Courtroom 303 of the Nesbett Courthouse. All members of the legal and court reporting and transcribing communities are invited to attend. If you are interested in attending the demonstration, please contact Information Support Systems at 264-8207.

Some of the most frequently asked questions about the digital audio system include:

 

Which court locations will have the new digital audio systems?

Anchorage, Kenai, Palmer, Kodiak, Dillingham, Homer, Valdez, Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Barrow, Nome, Kotzebue, Fairbanks and Bethel.

How can I listen to a recording of a court proceeding?

You can listen in one of three ways: (1) on a court system listening station; (2) by purchasing a 2-channel cassette tape copy ($10 per cassette); or, (3) by purchasing a duplicate CD ($10 per CD) to use on your own personal computer.

Can I listen to CD recordings of court proceedings on my home or car CD player? No. The CD recording can only be played back on a personal computer equipped with specialized software.

Will I need to purchase specialized software to listen to a duplicate CD on my computer?

Yes. To listen to a duplicate CD, you must purchase and install the specialized software of the digital audio system manufacturer. The software for both listening and transcribing purposes (FTR Player Plus) can be obtained from the vendor or through the vendor's Alaskan representative (see below).

How will digital recordings be transcribed?

Both public and private transcribers will have the option of obtaining copies of proceedings in either two-channel analog tape format or 4-channel CD format. The manufacturer of the digital recording equipment has transcription and playback hardware and software available for sale through dealers in Alaska.

Digital Recording Equipment Vendor and Local Representative

 

FTR Gold, FTR LTD, 100 West Clarendon, Suite 300, Phoenix, Arizona 85013, (602) 650-0958, www.ftr.org

Audio-Video, Inc., Attn: Tim Bitter, 5430 Fairbanks Street, Suite #7, Anchorage, AK 99518, (907) 561-1911.

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