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January 9, 2014

N.H. video arraignments becoming more common

County saves money, reduces security risk

A record number — 1,725 — of arraignments and hearings were conducted over video last year in Rockingham County.

That’s saving time and money, officials said yesterday.

“We started out with one court and now we are doing it at seven courts,” said David Consentino, assistant superintendent of the county jail. “It’s a great technology.”

That number was up from 1,621 in 2012 and 1,312 in 2011, Sgt. Harold Whitehouse said.

That’s a significant increase from only 803 video proceedings in 2009, when Whitehouse took over as the county jail’s video room coordinator.

There are approximately 4,000 arraignments and hearings — many on family court issues — held in the county each year, he said.

Video proceedings expedite court cases and save the county thousands of dollars a year, especially in inmate transportation costs, according to jail officials and prosecutors.

But the biggest advantage is not having to transport a potentially dangerous inmate between the jail and a court a half hour away, Rockingham County Sheriff Michael Downing said.

“Any time you don’t have to transport somebody, your risk goes down,” Downing said.

Whitehouse is responsible for arranging video court proceedings with judges and prosecutors at the county’s seven circuit courts. That includes courts in Salem, Plaistow and Derry.

Stacey Burgoyne, 23, appeared before Judge Robert Stephen yesterday morning in 10th Circuit Court in Derry. She was arrested on a simple assault charge Tuesday and held overnight at the Rockingham County jail until her arraignment.

When Stephen announced her bail would remain at $1,000 cash, Burgoyne wasn’t in the Derry courtroom. She was still in jail in Brentwood, where a video link allowed Burgoyne, Stephen and prosecutor Marcia Rosen to communicate without being in the same room.

Burgoyne’s arraignment may not have occurred yesterday if it had not been done by video because she wasn’t feeling well, Whitehouse said.

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