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Technology Used by Expert Witnesses in the Courtroom

When an expert witness becomes part of the courtroom proceedings, he or she may need additional technology to explain the issue to the judge or jury panel, and this could lead to unorthodox processes. When these items become necessary to demonstrate certain issues, the professional may need permission from the courts to accomplish this feat.

With permission, the expert witness usually has the authority to use any technology that is relevant to the case. This could include video and audio surveillance, DNA and fingerprint analyses, hardware connected to a computer and even a virtual reality setup. Through the use of technology, it is possible to catch up the judge or jury panel with ease and less time used. The expert may also present the details of the case with more alacrity so he or she may have more time to explain the confusing information. For certain situations, technology is the best means of supporting the case.

The Expense of Technology

Many lawyers opposing the use of technology in the courtroom do so due to the cost and expense. The defense may not have the same funds to fairly refute the evidence. However, with rentals and sharing of the hardware or software, this argument
is often moot. Additionally, the costs of some technology are far greater and less than others. For instances of virtual reality gear, the expense could reach thousands or more. However, simple enhancements to video surveillance may only run a few hundred. Other tech may have little or no cost such as acquiring the audio files from a computer or captured audio in a specific location.

The Suitability of the Environment

Many courtrooms have little or no access to or usability in providing more sophisticated equipment. This may include USB plug-ins, extra outlets and areas where monitors or other equipment may stand. If the courtroom is smaller, there is a lack of room for items to move or for the courtroom to view such details. In larger locations, bigger cities or courtrooms used for such technology, there are fewer problems with the room. The expert will need to gauge the suitability in an environment based on several factors. This may even include the reaction of the jury or judge, as either may have little understanding or know-how in using more advanced tech.

Approval of Technology in the Courtroom

Many experts may need to pass the approval of the judge in using technology in the courtroom. He or she may need to ask certain questions of the tech in the case. These may include if the items will benefit the case or in explaining the evidence. If the opposing counsel and expert do not use technology, this could provide a unique opportunity. If the environment is not suitable for the tech, the expert may need to determine if equipping it so it is would remain affordable. Additionally, the professional will need to ensure that the staff and others that may use the tech have training and skills. If additional software is a requirement, the legal team may need to buy it.

The Technology in the Courtroom

Other than the standard video or audio surveillance equipment such as a television, VCR or DVD player, the expert witness may make use of various types of hardware. This generally involves a computer of some sort. If the expert needs to enhance video or other items, he or she may demonstrate the method of enhancement of the equipment. Some may need to express the use of software through a visual demonstration in the courtroom. This may also clear up confusion about how the application processed the enhancement or alteration. The installation of software is not generally necessary as it is usually already on the computer.

Projectors, large monitors, headsets and various cords are often found in these processes. If the expert needs a virtual reality setup, he or she may need to provide a demonstration to one or two at a time instead of the entire jury panel and judge. Planning and scheduling are generally the first steps in ensuring that the technology presented does not cause issues for the courtroom.

The Expert in Technology

The expert witness may need to test the technology before demonstrating and presenting testimony. However, through the use and implementation of the tech, he or she may increase knowledge and awareness of the judge or jury panel in the subject matter of the case. This frequently increases the chances that a successful outcome will occur with the claim or case.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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