Courtroom Animation Processes: Scientific or Fictitious?

Courtroom animation is nothing like ice Queen Elsa in Frozen. They are made with scientific methods and not mere fictitious concepts.
Courtroom Animation
Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

The courtroom is open to everyone to ensure that society is not thrown back to the age where everything was crude and filled with lawlessness. Every form of evidence adduced before the court is tested with necessary rules of engagement in place for such evidence to be termed admissible. Courtroom animation is not just another type of computer animation that can be created by everyone who knows about “animation.” It requires in-depth knowledge, expertise, and scientific procedures.

The use of courtroom animation is recognized as one of the best ways of ensuring that evidence is communicated to the jury and the judge. Hence, it becomes crucial to discover if courtroom animations are produced following scientific and systematic methods or if they are merely fictitious and made to have prejudicial effects in the courtroom. 

The process of creating court room animation is not merely unsystematic. They are obtained from numerous data, research, and investigation.

How important is The Scientific Process to Making a Courtroom Animation?

Courtroom animation is a product of the intervention of science and technology in the field of law. Little wonder do some refer to it as legal animation or forensic animation.

When creating courtroom animation, scientific processes must be duly followed to prevent errors in what is being illustrated. More often than not, the help of a forensic animator would be used to ensure that all details are taken into consideration before the conclusion is made.

Osterburg (1981) in his article, Scientific Method and Criminal Investigation, stated that there are five main steps involved in the scientific method, namely “stating the problem, forming the hypothesis, collecting the data by observing and experimenting, interpreting these data, and drawing conclusions.” The format in which the scientific method is used in creating courtroom animation shall be discussed below:

1. Stating the problem

Scientific methods are used only when there has been a visible problem. Therefore, the courtroom animator must recognize the problem in the case. For instance, in a product liability case, the problem would be determining the cause of the injury to the victim. It could be a malfunction of the products. There is also the possibility that the injury occurred because of the victim’s negligence of the case. Thus, the problem would be clearly defining the cause and the mindset behind the act or omission of the defendant.

2. Forming the hypothesis

The hypothesis is a crucial aspect of the scientific method. Bailey (2019) in her article, Scientific Method, explained that a hypothesis is defined as “an idea that is suggested as an explanation for a natural event, a particular experience, or a specific condition that can be tested through definable experimentation.” Therefore, the hypothesis of the forensic animator can be that a road accident was caused by reckless driving. The rest of the scientific process has to be followed to ascertain this idea.

3. Collecting the data by observing and experimenting

This stage is essential because this is where every minute detail is considered. All the clues discovered at the crime scene are taken advantage of. In addition to that, expert opinions, police reports, medical reports, observation of bystanders, the age of the accused, and many other factors are used in determining the cause of the act or omission. 

In the case of Cleveland v. Bryant, a case involving a road accident was brought before the court. Both parties had different facts about the case. The expert witness used the proper scientific test to discover the cause of the accident. 

He visited the crime scene, made all required measurements, inspected the trailer truck that was involved in the accident, reviewed photographs of the damaged truck and car, witnessed the truck traveling on the road in an experiment, and examined a car of the same make as the one damaged in the accident. After collecting his data, interpreting, and experimenting, he discovered the actual cause of the accident and presented it before the court using courtroom animation.

4. Interpreting the data

After the data has been collected, the forensic animator must interpret the data correctly using the pattern detected from all of the data collected. Interpreting data takes expertise and experience. There are also forensic programs through which the data can be run. 

5. Drawing conclusions with courtroom animation

After interpreting the data, a definite conclusion will be reached. This will either affirm or deny your hypothesis. If it refutes the hypothesis, then the scientific process would have to begin all over again.

In conclusion, courtroom animations are not merely fictitious or unsystematic. They are done with an appropriate scientific process to reach a fair and just conclusion. Hence, any attorney looking to employ legal animation services for a trial animation must ensure that the legal animation company has a laid down scientific process to creating case-winning animations.

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