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Courtroom Applications of Virtual Environments, Immersive Virtual Environments, and Collaborative Virtual Environments

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Abstract:

This article examines the possibilities and implications of employing virtual environments (VEs), immersive virtual environments (IVEs), and collaborative virtual environments (CVEs) in the courtroom. We argue that the immersive and interactive reality created by these tools adds significant value as a simulation of experience to enhance courtroom practice. The obvious boundaries between real and virtual enhance the attractiveness of these tools as technologies of rhetorical persuasion that can be used to demonstrate subjective perspective, strengthen or impeach the credibility of witnesses, and provide the trier of fact with a better understanding of each side's perception of the facts at issue. The article introduces the concepts of VEs, IVEs, and CVEs, describes the manners in which these technologies have been applied to settings other than the courts system, and review the relevant psychological and legal literature. It discusses specific applications of the technology to the court system and suggests how it could improve upon current procedures. Finally, it discusses some of the limitations and problems, and suggests legal reforms necessary to the adoption of these technologies, specifically rules of procedure that provide for all parties to be able to access, manipulate and inspect any virtual environment, the trier of fact to be able to interact with, rather than just accept the lawyer's rendition, and rules that provide for the parties to introduce at trial an inventory of all digital assets contained in the virtual environment, making those that are stipulated to and those that are in controversy.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9930.2006.00226.x

Publication date: 2006-04-01

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