`Live from New York' the Trial Is in E. St. Louis; the Plaintiff Is on TV

Article excerpt

How can a judge hold a trial in East St. Louis while the man who filed the suit is in prison in New York?

Simple. Put everyone on television in both places.

U.S. District Judge Paul E. Riley began a trial Monday with cameras transmitting the courtroom scene in East St. Louis to a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y. On this end of the program, two 32-inch TV sets in Riley's courtroom show the plaintiff in New York as he watches the trial. Riley said the trial was the first in the Southern District of Illinois to use the technology for a trial with a plaintiff at the other end of the country. The television setup was used last month to present testimony from some witnesses in a trial before Magistrate Judge Gerald B. Cohn in East St. Louis. After ruling against a prisoner at Menard Correctional Center at Chester who claimed he had been beaten by a guard, the jurors told Cohn they were impressed by the system's ability to beam in testimony. Riley said the system had been tested in other locations, including two trials in the Central District in Peoria. The Illinois Department of Corrections also is setting up the system to use at its centers around the state to reduce the costs of transporting prisoners to court. It already is installed in about 20 jails, prisons or courtrooms around the state, including Menard, Decatur, Shawnee, Pontiac, Joliet, Dixon and Dwight. The technology was useful in Riley's trial because the prisoner who filed the suit, Cardova Lawary of East St. Louis, suffers from kidney disease and requires dialysis four times a week at the prison in New York. Riley said it would have cost the government about $30,000 to charter a special plane to fly Lawary to East St. Louis and provide medical care during the trial. Setting up the televised trial cost only $2,000, Riley said. …