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Supreme Court opts not to act on proposed videoconferencing rule change

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has opted not to act on proposed rule change that aimed to expand state courts’ ability to use videoconferencing but, in doing so, raised concerns about defendants’ rights.

Rule Petition 20-09 proposed several revisions to Supreme Court Rules 885.60-64 and various state statutes in response to changes in technology, and to clarify the authority of the court and chief judge to use technology and choose the location of the court.

The state Supreme Court decided to send the petition back to the petitioner after the justices were unable to come to a consensus on a number of the proposed changes, according to an order released by the high court on June 1.

The proposed repeal of 885.60(2)(d) was one of the most debated parts of the petition at a public hearing in April. The rule states ” If an objection is made by the defendant or respondent in a matter listed in sub. (1), regarding any proceeding where he or she is entitled to be physically present in the courtroom, the court shall sustain the objection.”

Judge Randy Koschnick, director of state courts, said the current statute essentially gives a defendant absolute veto power for videoconferencing. Kate Drury, a state public defender, argued that part of the petition would eliminate defendants’ rights to opt out of videoconferencing.

The state Supreme Court continued the discussion in a series of closed administrative conferences, but the justices didn’t come to an agreement on some of the proposed changes.

“The court recognizes the convenience and efficiency videoconferencing affords, but is also mindful of the many concerns identified and additional changes proposed by individuals who submitted written statements and offered testimony at the public hearing,” the order said.

About Michaela Paukner, [email protected]

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at [email protected]

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