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Justice Grills Advocates For Baker Act Video Hearings


Attorneys defending the use of video conferencing for mental competency hearings aren’t scoring points with at least one member of the Florida Supreme Court.

An irritated Justice Fred Lewis appeared to side with advocates for the mentally ill who are challenging a Lee County court’s use of video cameras to remotely conduct so-called “Baker Act” hearings.

“Why should we be in favor of leaning toward pushing more people toward glass and mirrors and boxes rather than the human dignity of a judge deciding if someone is going to be deprived of their liberty.”

Supporters of the practice argue video conferencing saves time and money. Opponents say the practice confuses the mentally ill and cite studies showing it can interfere with treatment.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.