Stetson Law builds country’s first high-tech, elder-friendly courtroom

Contact Frank Klim
Executive Director of Communications

Gulfport, Fla. – Stetson University College of Law is completing construction on the nation’s first elder-friendly, high-tech courtroom on its Gulfport campus. The completed courtroom will be dedicated Sept. 16, 2005, in honor of Professor Emeritus William R. Eleazer, who spent his career training ethical advocates.

The barrier-free courtroom, a joint effort of Stetson’s Centers for Excellence in Advocacy and Elder Law, is designed as a national model to increase courtroom access to the elderly and disabled. It uses cutting-edge technology including flat-panel monitors to display evidence, hearing amplification devices to make speech more audible, and a multi-lingual software speech synthesizer that will read aloud words displayed on a computer screen, translate them into multiple languages, and even output words to refreshable Braille displays if needed.

The teaching courtroom features a double jury box with one-way glass, which will allow students to monitor mock juries and focus groups. A flat-panel touch screen outside the courtroom will explain the roles of court personnel in the proceedings.

The courtroom will be used first by Stetson’s Elder Consumer Protection Program, which offers free public seminars to raise awareness of consumer scams as well as programs to train law enforcement, protective services workers, and assistant state attorneys on investigating and prosecuting consumer frauds against elders.

“This courtroom combines the technology of the 21st-century with the recognition that it is still people who make our system function. Our courtrooms must be accessible to all citizens,” said Roberta Flowers, Director of the Center for Excellence in Advocacy and Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law.

“With some thought and a few modifications, access can be provided to everyone,” said Rebecca Morgan, Boston Asset Management Faculty Chair in Elder Law and Director of the Center for Excellence in Elder Law. “As the number of elders continues to grow, the access provided by the barrier-free courtroom will become increasingly important.”

For more information, visit the courtroom online.