Deliberate with digital evidence

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A recent appeal in Indiana claimed the court should provide the jury with the ability to examine digital evidence during deliberations.  The digital evidence in the case included three CD-ROMs containing a series of digital photos.  In the appeal the plaintiff, Paul Arlton, a patient who received eye surgery from the defendant, claimed that the digital format of images of his retina would have aided the jury during deliberations. He claimed that the digital images provided more detail than the smaller, printed copies, which were the only form of the evidence available to the jury during deliberations.

The Court of Appeals of Indiana agreed.

The opinion from the Court of Appeals of Indiana opinion states that the "jury should not have been precluded from accessing the digital exhibits".  The opinion addresses some of the practical issues with giving the jury access to the digital format of the evidence, for example, potential unintended issues with giving the jury access to a computer to view the images.  The jury could misuse the computer to access extraneous information.  The opinion suggests that evidence be transformed into a medium that is accessible without a computer or provide the jury with a 'clean' computer that contains no other information and no access to the Internet.

If this ruling stands for other cases and all types of digital evidence it brings up some good questions for digital video evidence.

Full opinion from Court of Appeals of Indiana

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