Located in central Florida and serving Orange and Osceola Counties, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court is one of the largest judicial circuits in the state. Covering more than 2,000 square miles, the Ninth serves more than 1.3 million area residents. Originally established in 1911 and restructured in 1973, the Ninth comprises seven campuses spread across Osceola and Orange Counties, including two county courthouses, the Thomas S. Kirk Juvenile Justice Center, the Orange County Booking and Release Center, and multiple branch courthouses. As a technological leader, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court was the first court system to incorporate a centralized approach in providing remote interpretation services.
Because it is spread across such a large geographical area, the Ninth required reliable and flexible audio solutions that would allow the Courts to serve the local population effectively while using taxpayer funds most efficiently. For more than a decade, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court has had a Biamp solution in place. Installed on all seven campuses, the AudiaFLEX devices have been supporting court operations for many years, serving as the nucleus for the remote interpretation system. However, as the judicial case dockets continue to grow, so does the need to leverage technology with a proactive momentum, in order to continue serving Orange and Osceola County residents into the future. Pleased with AudiaFLEX’s dependable performance and adaptability over the years, the Court’s AV department sought to upgrade using Biamp’s Tesira® platform of products.
Each campus has a different yet unified customized audio solution. Due to the unique requirements that each location entails, system configurations often range from a simple single box system up to a four-box system for the more complex applications. To save money while continuing to provide the best available language services for local residents, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court employs six to eight certified interpreters who are based at its downtown headquarters. These interpreters also share resources with interpreters employed by neighboring Osceola County. As the area’s population grows and diversifies, demand for Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, and Russian interpretation is particularly high.
All interpretation services are conducted remotely, which allows certified interpreters to serve multiple locations with ease. Many court cases hinge on personal testimony, which is why precise interpretation is such a vital service for individuals who are hearing impaired or are not fluent English speakers. Because the interpreters are centrally located and do not travel between locations, all remote interpretation technology must be able to capture speech accurately and broadcast clearly to ensure proper translation. With packed daily schedules on each campus, any upgrades had to be seamless, with little to no disruption of court proceedings.
With the Audia® platform, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court uses microphone preamps located at each table in a courtroom, as well as a headset connection for the individual who requires interpretation services. Auxiliary fiber units take the microphone audio from the headsets and send it to the server room housing the AudiaFLEX units, which then send the audio back out to the system via fiber cables back into the corresponding headset. While this arrangement has worked extremely well over the years, the Ninth decided to upgrade the system in order to make its operations more efficient and offer additional functionality and interoperability among other third party systems that also required timely upgrades.
In a relatively unique AV industry scenario, the Ninth is not only the end user, but also the integrator. Ninth Judicial Circuit AV staff perform all design, installation, commissioning, maintenance, and operational support on all in-house projects, which equates to significant savings for local taxpayers. Audio/Visual Department Senior Engineer, Jamy Crum, selected a Tesira solution from Biamp based on several factors, including the open architecture DSP, the ability to use Tesira EX-IO expanders, and the opportunity to establish a more unified digital audio platform. The EX-IO expanders alone will eliminate three additional pieces of equipment for each interpreter headset connection point. The efficient infrastructure connecting this auxiliary equipment translates to a huge reduction of potential failure points, all while providing a central monitoring and control point with the Tesira software.
The upgrades began with the Orange County Corrections Booking and Release Center. This facility consists of three internal courtrooms, each of which is between 600 and 700 square feet. Each courtroom includes a dedicated area for the judge and attorneys, a glassenclosed witness stand, and a glass-enclosed public viewing area with a separate entrance for security measures. Inmates are brought into the courtrooms through a secured holding area. Acoustics are not as high on the architects’ priority list in this type of environment as those in the audio visual industry would prefer, which means that having the right flexibility in the technology is a critical necessity. Each courtroom has a dedicated system consisting of a Tesira SERVER-IO and TesiraFORTÉ device. With a total of 32 analog inputs and 16 analog outputs, each system also utilizes a diverse array of additional inputs and outputs ranging from telephone interface via both POTS and VoIP, CobraNet®, Dante™, and AVB.
In order to establish a virtual presence in the courtroom, interpreters situated at the downtown location have more than one option available to them. They can call into the Booking and Release Center via a Cisco Telepresence codec over IP, or with a standard telephone using the telephone interface within the Tesira system. By offering the ability for interpreters to dial into the proceedings, this allows the system to be versatile in supporting out-of-state freelancers that may be required for more unique languages that would otherwise not be available from staff interpreters. Using a Biamp Canvas® GUI, interpreters can switch between multiple presets changing the audio routing matrices, as well as maintaining control over specific audio levels they are receiving allowing the interpreters’ unique intelligibility needs to be optimized in real time as needed.
As longtime Biamp customers, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court’s audio/visual department is pleased with the advanced capabilities the new Tesira installation provides. In an everchanging environment where the boundaries are often pushed, the Tesira platform enables the unification of all audio needs and provides a single point of software control, which lets department staff members set the system up, determine where there are any faults or issues, and service the system as required. In some cases, the Tesira systems are actually controlling certain parameters of the Crestron® control systems.
Once all upgrades are complete at the Booking and Release Center, the Ninth intends to expand the upgrade to the three outlying branch courthouses, the Juvenile Justice Center, and the downtown courthouse. Each courtroom has its own unique aspects, from room shape to construction materials, but Mr. Crum and the rest of the audio/visual department are confident that a Tesira solution is the perfect choice for the entire Ninth Judicial Circuit Court system. Ultimately, the goal is to extend distance interpretation services statewide, and potentially across the country, allowing various state courts to share translation resources across multiple cities and counties, and providing more advanced interpretation services to speakers of common and rare languages alike.