Proposed Model Rules Governing the Admissibility of Computer-Generated Evidence
46 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2008
Date Written: January 1999
Computer simulations and animations are exceptionally persuasive. Judges and jurors absorb information presented in a visual format much more readily than information presented only by the spoken word. They more easily give credibility to televised information. If Peter Jennings says it happened, it happened. However, the inner workings of computer-generated evidence are not easily understood; and it has enormous potential for mischief. For these reasons, the fundamental issues affecting its admissibility should not be decided at the time of trial. Under a grant from the State Justice Institute, the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Court of Appeals of Maryland ("Rules Committee") studied whether new rules should be created to address computer-generated evidence. It concluded that the existing rules of evidence adequately deal with the admissibility of computer-generated evidence, but that new rules of procedure would be helpful. The new rules, adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals by Rules Order of February 10, 1998, provide for pretrial notice of computer simulations and animations, so that objections may be made and ruled on pretrial. If the problem with the proposed evidence is curable, it may be corrected before trial. The rules also put the burden on the proponent of the evidence to preserve the computer evidence, as it was presented to the factfinder, for the record. In the event that an opponent cannot afford to employ a necessary expert, or if the court requires expert assistance, the proposed rules provide that the court may appoint experts.
Keywords: courts, evidence, computer programs, trials, technology, computers
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation