Edwards v. Logan, Civil Action No. 97-0066-R.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
Writing for the CourtJones
Citation38 F.Supp.2d 463
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 97-0066-R.
Decision Date28 January 1999
PartiesMichael S. EDWARDS, Plaintiff, v. Keen Mountain Correctional Officer LOGAN, et al., Defendants.
38 F.Supp.2d 463
Michael S. EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
Keen Mountain Correctional Officer LOGAN, et al., Defendants.
Civil Action No. 97-0066-R.
United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division.
January 28, 1999.

Page 464

Michael S. Edwards, Las Cruces, NM, pro se.

Donald Wise Huffman, Huffman & Haig, P.C., Roanoke, VA, Martha Murphey Parrish, Office of Atty. Gen., Richmond, VA, Anisa P. Kelley, Fiscella, Kelley & Mooney, Richmond, VA, for defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

JONES, District Judge.


The question before the court is whether a jury trial in a suit brought by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 should be conducted through interactive video conferencing by which the plaintiff would remain confined in New Mexico while simultaneously participating in the trial held in this district. For security and expense reasons, I accept the state's request to hold the trial through video conferencing and direct the defendants to provide the necessary logistical assistance to set up the trial.

I. Background.

Michael S. Edwards, a state prisoner, filed suit against certain state prison officials and officers employed at the Keen Mountain Correctional Center, located in Buchanan County, Virginia, where Edwards was confined. In the suit, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 (West 1994 & Supp.1998), he seeks money damages and has demanded a jury trial. On July 7, 1998, this court dismissed certain of Edwards' claims and a number of the defendants, but retained for trial an excessive force claim filed against correctional officers Buchanan, Honaker, and Turner, and former officer Hibbits. In the meantime, Edwards had been transferred from Virginia to New Mexico to serve the remainder of his sentence, pursuant to an agreement between the states.1

Page 465

I thereafter directed the parties to file statements of their positions as to the plaintiff's attendance at trial in light of the Fourth Circuit's decision in Muhammad v. Warden, Baltimore City Jail, 849 F.2d 107, 111-12 (4th Cir.1988) (holding that a plaintiff inmate in a section 1983 action had no absolute right to be present at his jury trial). Defendants Buchanan, Turner, and Honaker responded by moving that the costs of transportation be borne by the plaintiff, submitting affidavits estimating that the cost of transporting Edwards from New Mexico to Virginia for trial, including appropriate security, would be $8,652, and recommending that the court consider conducting the trial through video conferencing. Edwards responded that he had no funds to pay for such transportation and requested that the state be directed to produce him at its expense. Following receipt of the responses, I directed the defendants to further explore the possible use of interactive video.

Defendants Buchanan, Turner, and Honaker submitted a memorandum in support of conducting the trial through interactive video on November 5, 1998. I allowed Edwards and defendant Hibbits to respond to this proposal by November 29, 1998. Hibbits responded with his concurrence to his co-defendants' proposal on November 12, 1998. To date, Edwards has not responded.

Accordingly, the issue is ripe for decision.

II. Analysis.

Throughout the country, courts are beginning to use video conferencing to conduct judicial business. A recent news article reported the increased use of video conferencing in the federal courts of appeal, district courts, and bankruptcy courts. Video Conferencing Links Federal Courts and Public, The Third Branch (Admin.Office, U.S.Courts, Wash., D.C.) June 1998, at 6-7. A subsequent article recounted the support video conferencing has received from judges and attorneys who note that it not only saves time and money, but also enhances security by reducing the need to move prisoner participants for hearings. Courtroom Technology Draws Positive Response, The Third Branch, supra, August 1998, at 9.

While video conferencing has promise, its use in the federal courts has been limited and there are few established boundaries on when video conferencing can be employed as an alternative to physical presence in the courtroom. The federal rules allow the use of video conferencing or comparable technology to present witness testimony, but do not expressly permit or restrict a court's ability to conduct an entire civil trial through video conferencing. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 43(a) ("The court may, for good cause shown in compelling circumstances and upon appropriate safeguards, permit presentation of testimony in open court by contemporaneous transmission from a different location.").

In criminal cases, video conferencing technology has been upheld as an alternative means of taking witness testimony. See Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836, 110 S.Ct. 3157, 111 L.Ed.2d 666 (1990) (holding that closed circuit television constitutionally permitted for taking testimony of a child witness); United States v. McDougal, 934 F.Supp. 296 (E.D.Ark.1996) (holding that exceptional circumstances justified the taking of the President's testimony through the use of a deposition by video conferencing). The Ninth Circuit held, however, that an arraignment may not be held through interactive video because the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure require the defendant's actual presence. See Valenzuela-Gonzalez

Page 466

v. United States Dist. Court, 915 F.2d 1276, 1280 (9th...

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  • Clehm v. Bae Sys. Ordnance Sys., Inc., Civil Action No. 7:16-cv-00012
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • December 14, 2018
    ...public expense, is determined to be infeasible," the court must consider "other reasonably available alternatives." Edwards v. Logan, 38 F. Supp. 2d 463, 467 (W.D. Va. 1999) (citing Muhammad, 849 F.2d at 111, 113); Joyner v. Byington, No. 7:15CV00526, 2017 WL 807208, at *1 (W.D. Va. Mar. 1,......
  • People v. Casias, No. 09CA1745.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • September 27, 2012
    ...technology, watching an event on the screen remains less than the complete equivalent of actually attending it.”); Edwards v. Logan, 38 F.Supp.2d 463, 467 (W.D.Va.1999) (“[Video-conferencing] is not the same as actual presence, and it is to be expected that the ability to observe demeanor, ......
  • Barnes v. Black, No. 08-1703.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • September 12, 2008
    ...the plaintiff to appear in the district court electronically. Thornton v. Snyder, 428 F.3d 690, 697-99 (7th Cir.2005); Edwards v. Logan, 38 F.Supp.2d 463, 467-68 (W.D.Va.1999); see generally El-Hadad v. United Arab Emirates, 496 F.3d 658, 668-69 (D.C.Cir. 2007); Air Turbine Technology, Inc.......
  • Lopez v. Nti Llc, Civil Action No. DKC 08–1579.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • September 16, 2010
    ...316 (4th Cir.2002) (asylum proceeding); United States v. Baker, 45 F.3d 837 (4th Cir.1995) (civil commitment hearing); Edwards v. Logan, 38 F.Supp.2d 463 (W.D.Va.1999) (civil rights action); see also In re Merck Prods. Liab. Litig., 439 F.Supp.2d 640, 642 (E.D.La.2006) (listing cases). Thes......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • Clehm v. Bae Sys. Ordnance Sys., Inc., Civil Action No. 7:16-cv-00012
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • December 14, 2018
    ...public expense, is determined to be infeasible," the court must consider "other reasonably available alternatives." Edwards v. Logan, 38 F. Supp. 2d 463, 467 (W.D. Va. 1999) (citing Muhammad, 849 F.2d at 111, 113); Joyner v. Byington, No. 7:15CV00526, 2017 WL 807208, at *1 (W.D. Va. Mar. 1,......
  • People v. Casias, No. 09CA1745.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • September 27, 2012
    ...technology, watching an event on the screen remains less than the complete equivalent of actually attending it.”); Edwards v. Logan, 38 F.Supp.2d 463, 467 (W.D.Va.1999) (“[Video-conferencing] is not the same as actual presence, and it is to be expected that the ability to observe demeanor, ......
  • Barnes v. Black, No. 08-1703.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • September 12, 2008
    ...the plaintiff to appear in the district court electronically. Thornton v. Snyder, 428 F.3d 690, 697-99 (7th Cir.2005); Edwards v. Logan, 38 F.Supp.2d 463, 467-68 (W.D.Va.1999); see generally El-Hadad v. United Arab Emirates, 496 F.3d 658, 668-69 (D.C.Cir. 2007); Air Turbine Technology, Inc.......
  • Lopez v. Nti Llc, Civil Action No. DKC 08–1579.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • September 16, 2010
    ...316 (4th Cir.2002) (asylum proceeding); United States v. Baker, 45 F.3d 837 (4th Cir.1995) (civil commitment hearing); Edwards v. Logan, 38 F.Supp.2d 463 (W.D.Va.1999) (civil rights action); see also In re Merck Prods. Liab. Litig., 439 F.Supp.2d 640, 642 (E.D.La.2006) (listing cases). Thes......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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