New law allows wide-ranging court use of videoconferencing
OKLAHOMA CITY – Courtrooms across the state will soon be allowed to use videoconferencing in a variety of district court proceedings, now that House Bill 3756 has been signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
House Bill 3756, authored by Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, authorizes the use of videoconferencing technology in all stages of civil or criminal proceedings except in jury trials or trials before judges.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has really highlighted the flexibility and usefulness offered by videoconferencing,” Miller said. “The utilization of videoconferencing in district courts has the potential to save our criminal justice system both time and money, as well as maintaining public safety. I’m thankful Governor Stitt signed this legislation that will maximize efficiencies and bring our District Court technologies into the 21st century.”
Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City, is the principal Senate author of HB3756. As a criminal defense lawyer for 20 years, Brooks says the bill is a much-needed step in modernizing the state’s judicial system.
“This is an important measure to improve public safety by allowing law enforcement more time to focus on enforcing the law rather than constantly transporting defendants to and from the district courthouse,” Brooks said. “One thing we’ve learned during this health crisis is that we have to be more efficient in government. This is a great example of using technology to modernize our court systems.”
Scott Crow, director of the Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections, expressed support for videoconferencing in a letter to Oklahoma district court judges. The Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association also asked Gov. Stitt in a letter to sign the legislation.
After being signed by the governor May 20, the bill will become effective Nov. 1.