KINGWOOD — Preston County’s circuit courtroom became one of the first in the state this week to acquire a new piece of technology.
After months of working with the Preston County Commission, the state Supreme Court and the State Historic Preservation Office, Preston Circuit Judge Steve Shaffer oversaw the installation of a 70-inch LED screen that swivels on its base installed on the wall of the circuit courtroom.
“We’re not in 1934,” Shaffer said, referring to the age of the courthouse. “This is almost 100 years in the future. We need to bring our courtrooms into the present.”
An engineer looked at the project to ensure the old walls could hold the TV, while the preservation office was called in because of the building’s landmark status. Once all approvals were obtained, the state Supreme Court paid for the wiring, television and other equipment. Metal conduits on the other side of the wall in the judge’s offices hold the wiring.
The screen can be swiveled and pulled out from the wall.
“What’s really going to be great is you can see it from anyplace in the courtroom,” Shaffer said.
Witnesses will be able to testify from any location, using a computer, and their image will appear on the screen. This is being done more and more in today’s courtrooms, particularly when COVID-19 kept people from appearing in person, Shaffer noted.
But in the past, jurors, attorneys, the judge and spectators were limited in what they could see by the size of laptop screens or a smaller television on a stand.
During trials, the small TV, on its stand, was sometimes placed inside the jury box so jurors could view the exhibits being shown by attorneys or see and hear witnesses who were testifying remotely. The new screen also allows attorneys to zoom in on aspects of an exhibit they want to highlight.
“I’m just so happy with it,” Shaffer said.
The television is located on the wall to the judge’s right, above where the media sit during trials. The framed American and West Virginia flags that formerly adorned on the wall will be placed behind the judge.
The flags are as historic as the courtroom. The U.S. flag has only 48 stars on it, and a note on the back of the frame notes that the flags hung in the courtroom for 58 years being replaced.
Staff writer Kathy Plum may be reached at 304-290-4805 or at email@example.com.