Torrance Defendants to Make TV Debut

Defendants in criminal arraignments will appear in a Torrance courtroom via closed-circuit television Monday on the first day of a test program designed to improve safety and expedite cases at the South Bay Municipal Court.

Cameras and television sets will connect Commissioner Andrew C. Kauffman's court on the first floor with the prisoners' lockup on the second floor of the Maple Avenue courthouse.

A camera and microphone will permit prisoners in the lockup to communicate with court personnel, who will watch on two television sets. Prisoners in the lockup will have a monitor on which to follow the court proceedings.

Previously, prisoners visiting Kauffman's court had to be escorted from the lockup, down a staircase and through an unsecured parking lot behind the courthouse. "It was a security problem in transporting prisoners to and from the courtroom," said court administrator Chris Crawford.

Faster Court Proceedings

The cameras will also speed court business, Crawford said, because Kauffman will not have to wait for bailiffs to bring prisoners in for arraignments.

If the project proves successful, Crawford said, a second courtroom will be linked to the lockup by video equipment.

A similar project in 1986 linked the Sheriff's Department crime laboratory in Torrance with all 17 of Torrance's superior and municipal courtrooms. Crime lab employees saved time and energy that they had spent traveling to and from the court, Crawford said, but attorneys objected to the procedure.

Crawford said he thinks lawyers will accept the video arraignments, though, because cameras and televisions are already being used for the same purpose in Glendale Municipal Court.

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