Andrew J. Wilhelm in his article “Complex Litigation in the New Era of the iJury” raised very important and urgent problem of modern American court: the effectiveness of jury court system. As it is stated at The Official Website of the Massachusetts Judicial Branch: “jury service is truly “government in the hands of the people”. Even john Adams named the jury as “voice of people”. These two statements reflect the American altitude to the jury system. Americans are proud of their existing possibility to dispense justice.
For its long history the jury court system has proved its effectiveness. But the question is that nowadays we live in a world of fast developing technology. The technology penetrates in all spheres of our lives. The court is not an exception. “In 1998 a federal pilot program encouraged the use of technology in litigation” (J. Wilhelm). Since that time “multimedia PowerPoints, video depositions, or digital crime scene recreations” (J. Wilhelm) are widely used in a courtroom.
One more peculiarity of modern litigation is its growing complexity due to several factors:
“multiple claims by multiple parties to be decided in a single lawsuit by a single jury;
The subject matter of litigation became much more intricate;
Explosion of patent litigation what is inherently complex” (J. Wilhelm).
There are a lot of legal cases on specific economic, political or any other terms. It means that each of the juror needs special qualification to understand the case and to make decision on it. With this purpose the special jury or “blue ribbon” was formed. According to the American heritage Dictionary, “ special jury is a jury selected from a panel chosen for a specific case, rather than from a panel for the selection of jurors for cases in general”. Such step was made in order to improve the jury court system and make it “competent to effectively, fairly, and objectively adjudicate complex litigation” (J. Wilhelm). For example when we speak about the legal case on patent rights between Apple and Samsung, it is obvious that ordinary citizen hardly will be able to understand the essence of the matter and give desirable verdicts. In such cases special jury will be attracted.
When we speak about the usage of technology in a courtroom, I personally states for it. There are many reasons why technology is useful:
keeping the jurors’ attention
preventing their boredom” (J. Wilhelm).
There are many trail techniques:
“Writing important information on a large pad attached to an easel;
Writing on a white board;
Displaying important documents or photographs mounted on 2 foot by 3 foot foam core boards;
Publishing documents and handing them to the jurors to pass among themselves; or
Conducting impeachment by reading the original testimony from the transcript” (3).
All of them have a purpose to simplify and increase the efficient of the court process. To my mind, the court technology is vital for every part of the court process. For a judge a courtroom technology gives “flexibility to impose time limits” (Hofer, 2007). For lawyers - the possibility to “complete openings, closings, and direct and cross examinations in less time” (Hofer, 2007). For jurors gives “common understanding of the evidence” and the possibility to work better as a team (Hofer, 2007).
As any other phenomena, together with advantages courtroom technology has its disadvantages. The most serious of them is possibility of manipulation. Hofer states in her article that “just as a writer uses punctuation, the selective use of zoom, close-up and fadeout can accent different points”. Moreover, sometimes it is very difficult to control computer data. “There is real danger that computer generated evidence may be erroneous, misleading, or unreliable” (Hofer, 2007). One more problem that can accrue is the “exacerbate existing inequities between litigants and therefore be unfair to less wealthy litigants who cannot afford them” (Hofer, 2007). In order a courtroom technology be efficient it must be of equal access to every citizen.
Wilhelm J., A. (2013). Complex Litigation in the New Era of the iJury. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2344&context=plr
The Official Website of the Massachusetts Judicial Branch. Massachusetts Court System. Retrieved from http://www.mass.gov/courts/jury-info/mass-jury-system/the-jury-system-today/
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011).Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Law Technology Today (July 9, 2013). Technology in the Courtroom. Retrieved from http://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2013/07/technology-in-the-courtroom/
Hofer, I. (2007). The Rise Of Courtroom Technology And Its Effect On The Federal Rules Of Evidence & The Federal Rules Of Civil Procedure. Michigan State University College of Law.