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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Contact:
Marti Maxwell, Superior Court Administrator, 360-786-5560

Video Arraignment Begins For Thurston County Superior Court


OLYMPIA – Arraignments for certain cases in Thurston County Superior Court will now be done via a video system between the county jail and the court.  The new system went into effect after successful trials last week.

Two courtrooms in Building Two of the main county courthouse campus are now equipped to handle the video appearance cases and one inmate/attorney booth has been set up in the jail.  Total cost for the project was less than $130,000.

Superior Court Administrator Marti Maxwell says all Superior Court Judges will be able to use the system, but it is primarily designed for the Criminal Presiding Judge.  She says demand for the video arraignment is quite high.  "For January through June of this year, we had 1,000 cases which could have utilized video arraignment.  That averages out to about 166 cases a month and we expect that level of service to continue through the rest of this year."

Preliminary court appearances, the kind of cases that would utilitize the video system, start at 3 o'clock each Monday and 3:30 the other four workdays of most weeks. 

Maxwell says the video arraignment system is one more step in increasing security at the courthouse.  "By using video, inmates are not transported from the jail to a courtroom.  They remain in the jail and are able to confer with their attorneys and appear before a judge, all on closed circuit television.  That means more than 150 times a month that inmates will remain in lock-up instead of moving through the courthouse complex."

Video arraignment is one of many steps toward increased security in the wake of an inmate attack on a corrections officer that happened in a courthouse elevator last March.  The suspect in that attack has since been convicted and sentenced to life in prison.  

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3