Hofer.pdf - THE RISE OF COURTROOM TECHNOLOGY AND ITS EFFECT...

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THE RISE OF COURTROOM TECHNOLOGYAND ITS EFFECT ON THE FEDERAL RULES OFEVIDENCE & THE FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDUREbyInga HoferSubmitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of theKing Scholar ProgramMichigan State University College of Lawunder the direction ofProfessor John PirichSpring, 2007
2INTRODUCTIONFifteen years ago, academics, lawyers, and judges alike pondered the question “[e]xactlywhat beast is this computer?Can it exist in a court of law?”1The courtroom, long a bastion ofdecorum, resistant, if not immune to the extremes of change, found itself in the midst of atechnological revolution.2However, the use of electronic evidence and computer generatedexhibits in the courtroom has glided through its first wave of novelty with less roar and with lessfear than many predicted, and with increasingly more acceptance from those who have actuallyused or presided over the use of technology at trial.3In fact, our federal judicial system is, inlarge part, embracing the use of technology in the courtroom.A survey conducted by the FederalJudicial Center in 2002-2003 shows that a large percentage of federal district courts have accessto primary forms of advanced technology used to present such evidence – either throughpermanent installation in one or more courtrooms or through equipment that is shared amongcourtrooms.4More specifically, the survey showed that 94% of federal district courts haveaccess to an evidence camera; 66% have access to a digital projector and projection screen; 93%to wiring to connect laptop computers; 57% to monitors built into the jury box; 77% to monitorsoutside the jury box; 88% to monitors at counsel table or lectern; 77% to monitors or screenstargeted at the audience; 80% to a color video printer; 91% to a telephone or infrared interpretingsystem; 92% to a kill switch and control system; 81% to an integrated lectern; 93% to audio-conferencing equipment; 85% to videoconferencing equipment; 81% to real-time software foruse by court reporter; 74% to a real time transcript viewer annotation system; and 66% to digitalaudio recording.5It makes sense that trial technology has successfully made its way into our courtrooms.The invention of television has inexorably altered the manner in which society receives
3information.6Generations have grown to adulthood accompanied by this medium, making it afamiliar and trusted presence by those who partake in its monologue.Add to this the advent ofcomputer technology and one can see how these interactive tools are capable ofincomprehensible power.In so many aspects of life, society has become dependent upon thepower and facility of the computer.It makes sense then, that the newest frontier upon which thecomputer has staked its claim is the courtroom.

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