LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – La Crosse County Judge Ramona Gonzalez is testing out video conferencing during intake court, which generally refers to a scheduled court session where the defendants in newly filed cases appear for the first time, bond is set, and further scheduling is done.
Gonzalez said they’ve had the equipment in her branch since about 2015 and in 2017 a survey was done across the state about who was using video conferencing and for what purpose as part of the court system planning process.
“Right now we’re in an island because every county around us is using video conferencing for a lot of things but particularly for what we’re interested in, which is bond hearings,” explained Judge Gonzalez.
She said she took it upon herself since the equipment was in her courtroom and decided to do a two-week trial session.
“It’s only a test, a two week test to see how this works for us. They are gathering information from the people in jail, defense bar, prosecution, from the court officers.”
“There’s always trade offs in anything, right? Obviously it would be best if I could do every case like you and I right now, if I could just look you in the eye this far apart and there’s no other distractions but that’s not the way life goes.”
Gonzalez said they are trying to make the experience of justice the best possible for each individual. “There’s a lot of sensitivity issues for what I call the humanitarian side of it but also for the safety side of it. I only have so many court officers, there’s a lot of moving parts for the 1:30 criminal intake so this allows me to limit those moving parts.”
After the test, Gonzalez said they will step back and look at it and maybe try it again next time she does intake court.