M E M O
TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Gerhard Raedeke
RE: Initial Appearance and Arraignment by Interactive Video
The Committee has a request from Judge Davies for amendments allowing initial appearances and arraignments to be conducted by interactive video. The amendments would alleviate the necessity of transporting prisoners from jail to the courtroom. See letter from Judge Davies.
Federal courts have not addressed the constitutionality of permitting arraignments by closed-circuit television. Rules 10 and 43, Fed.R.Crim.P., do not allow such a procedure. Valenzuela-Gonzalez v. U.S. D.C. for D. of Arizona, 915 F.2d 1276 (9th Cir. 1990). In Valenzuela-Gonzalez, the court said the protection of Rules 10 and 43 is broader than the Constitution provides, and held "the district court must arraign the accused face-to-face with the accused physically present in the courtroom." 915 F.2d at 1280.
State courts have upheld rules allowing arraignment by closed-circuit television. See Larose v. Hillsborough Cty. Corr. Admin., 702 A.2d 326, 328-30 (N.H. 1997), holding an arraignment conducted by video teleconference did not violate petitioners' due process rights; State v. Phillips, 656 N.E.2d 643, 663-665 (Ohio 1995), holding an "arraignment of an accused via closed-circuit television is constitutionally adequate when the procedure is functionally equivalent to live, in-person arraignment;" In re Rule 3.160(a), Fla. R. of Cr. Proc., 528 So.2d 1179, 1180 (Fla. 1988), holding in regard to felony arraignments, "due process does not require the personal presence of a defendant in a courtroom before a judge when, through mechanical means, he can see the judge and the judge can see him;" Com. v. Terebieniec, 408 A.2d 1120, 1123-24 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1979), finding no unconstitutional prejudice inherent in appellant's arraignment via closed circuit television.
In the following material are rules from other states allowing initial appearances or arraignment through interactive video. A variety of terminology is used in the rules to refer to interactive video, including the following: 1) video telephone, 2) closed circuit television, 3) electronic audio-visual devices, 4) audio-visual devices, 5) interactive audio-visual closed circuit system, 6) two way electronic audio-video communication, 7) simultaneous transmission through audio-visual electronic equipment, 8) simultaneous audio-visual transmission, 9) two way audio-visual communication, and 10) simultaneous television transmission.
Should North Dakota adopt a rule allowing initial appearances and arraignments to be conducted by interactive video? If so, which terminology does the Committee prefer? Should the defendant have a right to insist on being physically present in the courtroom? Should the procedure be used for both felonies and misdemeanors?