Judges: Hello, Justice Calling

Having noted that much testimony could sensibly be taken over the telephone, California Judge Leon Emerson during the past year has been using a unique new courtroom tool: a speakerphone. The instrument is sensitive enough to pick up the courtroom questions of defense and prosecuting attorneys. The witness is sworn over the loudspeaker telephone, and his voice is amplified so that everyone can hear what he says.

Emerson, a municipal court judge in Downey, Calif., finds the speakerphone invaluable for getting a brief piece of testimony from a policeman, parole officer or technical...