The legal system has traditionally lagged behind the rest of the nation in technology adoption. As tech plays an increasingly significant role in our lives, its presence in the courtroom is growing. With this increase in tech comes increasing evidence that attorneys who capitalize on it may see better results.
As technology in the courtroom becomes more common, those who don’t use it will fall behind. What’s cutting-edge today will be standard tomorrow and obsolete before long. Courtroom tech offers more advantages than making lawyers seem more up-to-date than their opponents, too.
Modern technology can help attorneys make a stronger case than ever. It gives courts access to a wealth of new evidence and new, engaging ways to present it.
Tech’s benefits for legal professionals start before a trial even begins, most notably in evidence collection. Social media sites are an insightful and easily accessible source of evidence, as seen in the Hoffman v. State trial of 2012. The drunk-driving defendant’s MySpace posts about alcohol demonstrated how she didn’t take substance abuse seriously.
This social media-backed case against Hoffman was convincing enough to earn a manslaughter conviction. If prosecutors hadn’t taken advantage of social media, their argument likely wouldn’t have been so compelling. Alternatively, if Hoffman’s MySpace portrayed her character differently, defense attorneys could’ve used it in their favor.
A more recent technological advancement, data analytics, can also help in pre-trial preparation. Analytics applied to historical court data can predict an argument’s success in a given court or with a particular judge. These insights can help attorneys refine their case before they step into the courtroom.
More Engaging Evidence Presentation
The primary benefit of technology use during the trial is a variety of presentation methods. From video presentations to 3D models, attorneys have access to an abundance of formats, thanks to technology. Capitalizing on this variety can help make a more engaging, convincing case before the jury.
Studies in education have found that students retain information better when engaging more of their senses. By that logic, if attorneys involve more of the jury’s senses, the jury will understand the case better. Technology gives legal teams the resources they need to do this.
In 2012’s Bradley v. State case, a robbery victim identified his assailants in their Facebook photos. These photos are far from cutting-edge, but this visual demonstration helped prosecutors attain a conviction. As more technology emerges, it can help legal teams build stronger cases.
Three-dimensional models of buildings can give juries insight into the scene of a crime they wouldn’t have otherwise. Similarly, digital renderings of a victim’s injuries can provide a closer, more impactful look at the severity of an assault.
What’s Next for Courtroom Tech?
One of the most promising advances in courtroom technology is augmented reality (AR). AR superimposes 3D digital renderings onto a real-world environment, interacting in real-time as well. This technology can be a game-changer for victim testimonies.
Victims, especially in sexual abuse cases, often feel violated in courtroom settings, so they may not want to testify in-person. Simultaneously, testimonies given via videoconferencing are less likely to elicit sympathy or belief from a jury. AR testimonies provide a safe and effective middle ground.
With AR, victims can appear in court as a hologram, which feels closer to in-person testimonies than videoconferencing. Juries may then be more likely to sympathize with or believe the victim. These more comprehensive images let the court see subtle non-verbal cues that affect credibility.
Of course, for tech like this to work, courtrooms themselves need to be able to support them. If something is too cutting-edge for an attorney to wield efficiently, they may come across as inept. A lawyer’s ability to use technology is just as impactful as the tech itself.
Technology Use Can Make or Break a Case
No law firm should adopt the latest tech just because they can. If implementing it in the courtroom will cause disruptions or slow the process, it could be counter-productive. On the other hand, if attorneys can apply it without much trouble, it can strengthen their case.
As technology continues to evolve, legal professionals have more assets than ever. By using this tech, attorneys can appeal to more of a jury’s senses and adjust to new challenges. The law firms that will be most successful in the future are those that can capitalize on technology.