Virtual Evidence in the Courtroom

Virtual Evidence in the Courtroom

Damian Schofield (State University of New York at Oswego, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-762-3.ch010
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There are a number of fundamental implications inherent in the shift from oral to visual mediation, and a number of facets of this modern evidence presentation technology need to be investigated and analysed. This chapter describes the use of computer-generated visual evidence in court (particularly forensic animation and virtual reconstruction technology) and discusses some of the benefits and potential problems of implementing this technology.
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Courtroom Technology

It is beyond the remit of this chapter to provide an extensive catalogue of every aspect of technology employed and utilised in modern courts. This has been undertaken by many other authors. For example, Brown (2000) gives a comprehensive review of technology used in courts up to the end of the century, and Schofield and Goodwin (2007) also give details of a number of current applications.

For the purposes of this chapter, technology used in courts and chambers is defined as including any technology built into the court, and any technology used in legal proceedings. In 1997, it was estimated that there were approximately 50 high-technology courts around the world (Lederer and Solomon, 1997). A more recent survey found that over a quarter of US district courts had some form of computer monitors or screens for the jury, and two-thirds of them had access to digital projectors and projection screens (Wiggins, 2006). The cost of upgrading to a high-technology court has, in the past, often been seen as prohibitive; however, as digital technology develops, the costs invariably continue to fall.

Courts contain different levels of technology, but specifically may include options for the following (Lederer and Solomon, 1997 and Schofield and Goodwin, 2007):

Key Terms in this Chapter

Courtroom: A room in which a law court sits.

Forensic Animation: An audio-visual recreation of an incident or accident created to aid investigators and lawyers present evidence in a court of law.

Admissibility: Evidence accepted into a court of law is deemed to be admissible.

Forensic Reconstruction: The use of scientific methods, physical evidence, deductive reasoning, and their interrelationships to gain explicit knowledge of the series of events that surround an incident or accident.

Forensic Science: The application of scientific methods to legal problems and criminal investigations.

Jury: a group of people sworn to give a verdict on some matter submitted to them.

Evidence: Physical objects, diagrams, graphs, pictures, documents, computer models, digital images and other devices which are intended to clarify the facts at a judicial hearing such as a trial.

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