Visual Jurisprudence

23 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2012

Date Written: August 24, 2012


Lawyers, judges, and jurors face a vast array of visual evidence and visual argument inside the contemporary courtroom. From videos documenting crimes and accidents to computer displays of their digital simulation, increasingly, the search for fact-based justice is becoming an offshoot of visual meaning making. But when law migrates to the screen it lives there as other images do, motivating belief and judgment on the basis of visual delight and unconscious fantasies and desires as well as actualities. Law as image also shares broader cultural anxieties concerning not only the truth of the image, but also the mimetic capacity itself, the human ability to represent reality. What is real, and what is simulation? This is the hallmark of the baroque, when dreams fold into dreams – or should we say the digital baroque, when images on the screen immerse us in a seemingly endless matrix of digital appearances. Under current cultural conditions, jurists need training in visual literacy. That is what the theory and practice of visual jurisprudence aim to provide.

Keywords: visual jurisprudence, confrontation clause, evidence, testimony, criminal trials, litigation, teleconferencing, virtual testimony, distant testifying, persuasion, technology, digital evidence, images, demeanor, cameras, distant witness, rhetoric, visualizing law, Aura, Purgatory, Digital baroque

JEL Classification: K10, K40, K41, K49

Suggested Citation

Sherwin, Richard Kenneth, Visual Jurisprudence (August 24, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Richard Kenneth Sherwin (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics