Back in the day, your witnesses had to be in the actual courtroom for the most part. In the short future, they may just have to be “there” — technologically speaking. It isn’t too bold of a claim to make considering that we’ve been dealing with the realities of Zoom trials for a while now. But the future holds something a little bit cooler than the person testifying donning a little face filter. From the ABA Journal:
The William & Mary Law School in Virginia has spent the past four months experimenting with hologram witnesses—and recently brought them before judges in the courtroom.
Judge John Gibney Jr. of the Eastern District of Virginia presided over a mock trial at the law school last month that included testimony from these full-size witnesses, which were beamed into the courtroom through an Epic, a special unit about the size of a phone booth, Reuters reports.
“The improved definition in the picture gave the people watching and hearing the witness a better chance to evaluate their credibility,” said Gibney, who told Reuters that the hologram witnesses were better than seeing witnesses through a video screen.
It makes sense for students to start preparing for this. Outside of the novelty, it is shaping up to be real world preparation. Of course it would be better to have people show up in person, but if there’s a commuting issue or an unexpected global pandemic occurs and renders the world on house arrest again, it will be good to keep our options open.
Before you rearrange this year’s budget to grab a hologram-a-bob from Best Buy, you should know that there are still a few kinks that need to be ironed out:
While Fredric Lederer, the director of the center, told the publication that holograms could make witness testimony more convenient and accessible, it is unclear whether their testimony would be considered constitutional.
Lederer cited the confrontation clause, which gives people who are facing criminal prosecution the right to confront their accusers, according to Reuters. They also come with a hefty price tag, and because they use the internet, could encounter service glitches.
Petty things like “constitutionality” aside, the developments that technology brings to the field can make some fundamental changes to how we do business.
Law School Introduces Hologram Witnesses In Mock Trial [ABA Journal]
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by tweet at @WritesForRent.
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