Nov. 16, 2011 – Can the judge of the case you are trying be half a world away? Can your mediation or custody hearing be held in virtual reality? Can your innocent client be convicted by a computer-generated re-creation of the crime?
At the Center for Legal and Court Technology (CLCT) at William & Mary School of Law, which is the world center for courtroom-related technology, the answer is yes. The CLCT courtroom is capable of approximately 20 simultaneous remote appearances by judges, lawyers, witnesses, and experts from worldwide locations. CLCT has technology for real-time text transcripts and the actual evidence as it is introduced, technology for people who have difficulty seeing, moving, and hearing, and evidence presentation technology.
In this video, Prof. Fredric I. Lederer discusses courtroom technology with State Bar Legal Writer Joe Forward. Lederer doesn’t believe that the expense is prohibitive. Clever lawyers are already doing amazing things using iPads and other low-cost technologies, says Lederer.
Technology is changing the way the legal system does business
Technology can save time and expense by allowing individuals to appear in court via video. But today remote means more than a witness or defendant giving testimony or a lawyer speaking from his or her office. For example, an interpreter does not have to be in the courtroom to help someone give testimony, or an elderly person who cannot come to court can appear from their hospital room or home.
While the CLCT is always testing new advances in technology that can be costly, Lederer doesn’t think that the expense is prohibitive to attorneys. With an inexpensive projection unit attached to a computer or an iPad, you have a high-tech presentation system without the cost of a high-tech courtroom.
“Clever lawyers, judges, and court administrators are able to do amazing things with almost no cost whatsoever these days,” says Lederer. “Our courtroom tools are changing, and the people we work with are changing. Lawyers must adapt if we are to continue doing our jobs as well as we should.”
Lederer oversees the experimental center for courtroom and related technology at the CLCT at William & Mary School of Law. As the founder and director of the CLCT, Lederer is responsible for the McGlothlin Courtroom, the world’s most technologically advanced trial and appellate courtroom, and the Courtroom 21 Court Affiliates, an organization of federal, state, and foreign courts. Lederer is chancellor professor of law and director of the CLCT at William & Mary School of Law. He spoke at the Wisconsin Law Foundation annual dinner in Madison on Sept. 27.