The Hi-Tech Courtroom of the Future

The Courtroom of the future has arrived with the latest digital technology advancing trial techniques including making it possible to observe evidence faster and more easily. Judge Gail Prudenti, Dean of the Hofstra University Maurice Aideen School of Law, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the future of courtrooms.

TRANSCRIPT

The courtroom of the future has arrived, with the latest digital technology advancing trial techniques, including making it possible to observe evidence faster and more easily.

Judge Gail Prudenti, dean of the Hofstra University Maurice A. Deane School of Law, joins us to discuss the future of courtrooms.

So, let's talk a little bit about how law and technology have changed and also specifically the courtroom.

I mean, I still have the same images in my mind of what a courtroom looks today as watching a black-and-white episode of 'Perry Mason.'

I'm sure, and I'm sure a lot of people do.

But, you know, trial advocacy is all about persuasion.

And what technology has done -- it really has revolutionized the practice of law, especially in the area of law-firm management and what lawyers are looking for when they hire new lawyers, as well as how they perform in the courtroom.

So, at Hofstra, we believe getting our students practice-ready, not only practice-ready for tomorrow, but for the day after tomorrow.

And what we have found is our new center for law and technology is something that will prepare our students to better serve the community, to better serve the lawyers, and to better serve the underprivileged, you know, and people who don't have access to justice as easily as others.

What does that modern-day courtroom look like now?

Oh, the modern-day courtroom really is a courtroom where the trials are paperless.

The attorneys use iPads, and we train our attorneys and our attorney students to use iPads.

Everyone has a touchscreen, whether it's the judge, whether it's the jurors, or whether it's the trial attorneys.

And we use a program that's called TrialDirector that will allow the witnesses, will allow the jurors, will allow the judge, and will allow the attorneys to best advocate their positions and get that up-close-and-personal view of evidence and, actually, of witnesses and their testimony and how they're testifying.

So, it is something that has revolutionized the way trial practice is going on, not only in the federal system, but in the state-court system, as well.

So, if you're sitting the jury box, somebody doesn't have to walk around and show you a Ziploc bag or point to an area.

It's actually just showing up on a screen in front of you at the magnification that might make most sense.

It is, and it's also identified by the witness right on the screen.

You know, they identify it.

They can identify a portion of the evidence that's crucial as the attorney directs them to that part.

And it also allows the witness to refresh their recollection.

Even so much better than just asking that question, you know, they're seeing the scene, let's say, the scene of the crime once again...

Mm-hmm.

...or they're seeing an accident once again.

And they're taking that look, and they're saying, 'I remember when I was there.

I remember when I first saw that, and this is what I saw.'

The lawyers of the future will be able to e-file -- so, they no longer go to court just to file their papers.

And many courts do it now, both in the federal system and the state system.

They will be able to e-discover, meaning getting ready for trial and not going through hundreds of boxes, but basically doing it with the use of technology.

And number three, which is very important because the practice of law is a business, they will be able to do e-billing.

Are there examples of cases, when they were being tried in these sorts of settings, where possibly it could have impacted the outcome?

Very much so.

Let me give you one example that I saw up close and personal.

And that was in the Commercial Division of the state of New York.

There was one attorney who was so well versed in technology, and basically he did everything paperless.

And there was another attorney.

And I have to tell you, my heart went out to him because he was going through boxes.

He -- I could see that the jurors were getting lost, that they were getting bored.

And for the amount of time it was taking not only to mark the exhibits, but to show everyone the exhibits, he was definitely at a disadvantage.

Mm.

So, I think, to equal that playing field, you are going to see the practice of law and trials revolutionized so that everyone has all of these abilities, as well as all of the technology.

So, the presentation of the case was compromised by somebody's lack of ability to be digital.

Exactly right.

And I'll tell you another example of what I've seen.

In our courtroom of the future, we have many, many clinics at Hofstra Law, and one helped victims of Superstorm Sandy collect benefits and collect insurance.

And then there was a denial of insurance benefits.

And then there was litigation over that.

And our students learned and practiced, under the leadership of fabulous Professor Krieger.

And they were able to try their cases and bring their claims with the use of technology and helped hundreds of people when maybe they could have only helped a dozen before.

All right.

Judge Gail Prudenti of Hofstra University, thanks so much for joining us.

Oh, it was my pleasure.

Thank you for having me.