The Parker County commissioners unanimously approved audio/visual upgrades for the County Court at Law 2 courtroom after issues were expressed by Judge Lynn Marie Johnson.
The total came in at $87,006, which Johnson — who is the CCL2 judge — said is $25,000 below what was anticipated.
“You all commissioned a sound engineering report for CCL2 because of the issues with being able to hear what was being said and to be able to actually see what was being presented in exhibits in our body cam and dash cam video, so we had a couple of different AV companies come out and look at our courtroom based on the sound engineering report,” Johnson said. “We negotiated back and forth and they are about $25,000 below what we anticipated the other bids coming in at.”
County Purchasing Agent Kim Rivas said the bid was awarded to Communication Concepts through Buyboard.
“It’s with current year funds that have been verified. That does not include the service maintenance annual contract, which they’ve also proposed for $18,000,” Rivas said. “Then there were some changes that Judge Johnson had added, which increased from $66,000 to $87,006 that she does have a budget for.”
Johnson said this will be for phase one and will include additional microphones, speakers and video monitors.
“The biggest problem we have is that folks that appear for jury trials or any kind of hearings when the room is congested, they can’t hear anything. We had jurors complain last Monday because they couldn’t hear any of my talking from the bench because we have insufficient speakers that resonate to the audience,” Johnson said. “We actually have a case that’s up on appeal because the lawyer couldn’t see, and so there’s a due process issue that may be heard by the court of appeals because of a case that was held in my court.”
Johnson said all of the upgrades are within the Texas Historical Commission guidelines.
“So the first phase is to actually improve the AV system, the second phase is going to be to add the acoustic panels like [the commissioners] have in this room and then we’re also going to try and add those plexiglass inserts in our windows to take care of all the outside noise so we don’t have to shut down court anytime some 16-year-old drives around the courthouse playing the radio too loud or when there’s a fire [truck] or ambulance or something we have to stop court for,” Johnson said. “So those are the things we’re envisioning, but this contract only takes care of the mics, speakers and video monitors to have all that connectivity you find in CCL1 and both your district courts.”
Johnson said she has been negotiating with the THC to get the phase two upgrades under $40,000.
“I take responsibility for the county’s money and the taxpayer’s money and I want to make sure we’re getting our best deal, so that’s why I went and got different AV bids and I brought down the AV bid by at least $20,000,” Johnson said. “That’s why I’m going to bring down the other bids as well because it’s just too much money.”