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Law on Display

Law on Display: The Digital Transformation of Legal Persuasion and Judgment

Neal Feigenson
Christina Spiesel
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 356
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  • Book Info
    Law on Display
    Book Description:

    Experience the multimedia and view the links featured in the book at lawondisplay.comVisual and multimedia digital technologies are transforming the practice of law: how lawyers construct and argue their cases, present evidence to juries, and communicate with each other. They are also changing how law is disseminated throughout and used by the general public. What are these technologies, how are they used and perceived in the courtroom and in wider culture, and how do they affect legal decision making?In this comprehensive survey and analysis of how new visual technologies are transforming both the practice and culture of American law, Neal Feigenson and Christina Spiesel explain how, when, and why legal practice moved from a largely words-only environment to one more dependent on and driven by images, and how rapidly developing technologies have further accelerated this change. They discuss older visual technologies, such as videotape evidence, and then current and future uses of visual and multimedia digital technologies, including trial presentation software and interactive multimedia. They also describe how law itself is going online, in the form of virtual courts, cyberjuries, and more, and explore the implications of law's movement to computer screens. Throughout Law on Display, the authors illustrate their analysis with examples from a wide range of actual trials.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2856-7
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 The Digital Visual Revolution
    (pp. 1-34)

    Millions of people saw Rodney King beaten by members of the California State Police. Over and over, they watched portions of George Holliday’s amateur videotape on television.¹ The jury in the 1992 criminal trial of four of the police officers repeatedly viewed the tape, too—unedited, as shown by the prosecution; in slow motion and as freeze-frames accompanied by expert testimony, as shown by the defense. No matter what you saw when you watched—a helpless black man being beaten by racist cops or a drug-crazed violent offender being lawfully subdued and arrested—the scenes on the tape remain emblematic...

  6. 2 The Rhetoric of the Real: Videotape as Evidence
    (pp. 35-61)

    When a lawyer shows the jury a crime scene photograph, when an expert produces surveillance tape to prove that an intruder was, indeed, present as the prosecutor claims, when an oil spill despoils a shore and photographs of oil-soaked birds are produced to show ecological damage—all of these pictures are documentary. They offer visual evidence to support an argument about a legal story. Lawyers need these pictures to be clear, but they need more than just clear visual images; their pictures serve rhetorical purposes as well as convey reliable factual evidence.

    In this chapter, we examine pictures that are...

  7. 3 Teaching the Case
    (pp. 62-103)

    Lawyers have an ethical obligation to pursue their clients’ interests diligently within the bounds of the law,¹ trying to persuade judges and jurors (if not also opposing counsel) that their clients’ positions are justified. To do this, they have to help decision makers understand what happened and why it matters.² Mediators, arbitrators, judges, and jurors depend on the lawyers to take fragments of reality indicated by witnesses, documents, and other sources and to translate those fragments into intelligible, coherent form. They depend on the lawyers to teach them the case.³

    When lawyers do this, they can’t rely exclusively on the...

  8. 4 Picturing Scientific Evidence
    (pp. 104-130)

    When everyday knowledge runs out or is inconclusive, legal decision makers turn to scientific or other technical experts for the knowledge they seek. Scientific evidence has been a part of trials for centuries, but today it is perhaps more important than ever, as the range of lawsuits demanding such evidence has expanded (think of products liability and toxic tort cases, for instance) along with the breadth and depth of scientific knowledge. In many of these cases, scientific experts have themselves made and/or relied on pictures in forming the opinions they offer as witnesses in court. Judges and jurors may be...

  9. 5 Multimedia Arguments
    (pp. 131-162)

    Almost all of the visual displays we have examined so far, from videos and digitally enhanced photographs to computer animations and multimedia montages, were offered in court as demonstrative evidence. These sorts of pictures may contribute powerfully to the lawyer’s theory of the case, but they are constrained to do so only implicitly, because lawyers aren’t supposed to deliver arguments during the evidentiary phase of trial. In contrast, during their closing arguments (also calledsummations), lawyers are free to advocate their clients’ positions overtly.¹ They’re not con-fined to the presentation of evidence; they can say and show things that wouldn’t...

  10. 6 Into the Screen: Toward Virtual Judgment
    (pp. 163-194)

    In this chapter we go from law’s high-tech present to its possible future—a future that may be closer than you think. The latest picturing and display technologies, from computational photography to virtual reality, are creating ever more complex relationships between representation and the real world, making it increasingly difficult for jurors and judges to assess the truthfulness of what they see. At the same time, negotiation, mediation, and even adjudication are moving online, so that the same computer screens (and the computing capacities behind them) on which lawyers rely to construct evidence and arguments may soon constitute a virtual...

  11. 7 Ethics and Justice in the Digital Visual Age
    (pp. 195-222)

    Throughout this book, we have illustrated the challenges posed by law’s digital visual revolution: to the nature of reliable legal knowledge, the bounds of permissible legal argument, and the distribution of meaning-making authority. As we tracked the changes in legal persuasion and judgment, we argued that justice today is more likely to be achieved if judges, jurors, lawyers, and the public encounter the new courtroom media with open eyes, as knowledgeably as possible. The figure of Justice is typically depicted holding scales and wearing a blindfold.¹ But what exactly does it mean to take the blindfold off? How should law...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 223-308)
  13. Index
    (pp. 309-334)
  14. About the Authors
    (pp. 335-335)