William and Mary Law School

Sept 13 Lab Trial to Focus on How Elderly People Respond to Courtroom Technology

The Center for Legal and Courtroom Technology (CLCT), a joint initiative of the Law School and the National Center for State Courts, will analyze the response of elderly individuals to modern courtroom technology in a Laboratory Trial to be held Sept. 13. The trial will begin at 9 a.m. in the Law School's McGlothlin Courtroom.

 The fictitious case, In Re Leslie Lyndon, will resolve a guardianship dispute involving an elderly woman residing in a retirement community. Fred Lederer, director of the CLCT, said that assisting elderly trial participants is especially relevant in today's society. "The baby boomer population is getting older," he noted. "We can expect a lot more people in court matters who have trouble seeing and hearing. Our goal is to try a case the way we'd normally try a case, except with a focus on older people."

The lab trial will analyze the response of elderly persons to various technologically advanced courtroom devices commonly used throughout the United States The CLCT will use their feedback in continuing efforts to make court facilities and procedures more accessible. "We know how youth will react to the courtroom technology," said Mary Mintel '10, a law student fellow facilitating the exercise. "We want to get a gauge on what the elderly think of the experience and what else we can do to make it more accessible to older people."

Several residents of Williamsburg Landing, a local retirement community, will be serving as witnesses and jurors in the trial. William & Mary law students will serve as the trial lawyers. Circuit Court Judge Charles Posten will preside.

The case revolves around Leslie Lyndon, a wealthy elderly woman. Leslie has been giving fellow resident Jack Carlson large amounts of money, and has recently considered revising her will to include him. She is also displaying symptoms of deteriorating mental health. Leslie's adult children are moving for guardianship in order to protect both her interests and their own.

This year's Laboratory Trial is one of many ways the CLCT, working in partnership with the American Foundation for the Blind, is striving to make the legal system more accessible to those who have difficulty seeing, hearing, and moving. In Re Leslie Lyndon will build on information gathered in a 2006 state-of-the-art CLCT lab trial that tested the ability of assistive technology to provide equal courtroom access to judges, lawyers, witnesses, and jurors with a variety of disabilities.

The CLCT is a non-profit research, education, and consulting public service organization committed to improving the judicial process through the use of appropriate technology.

Journalists are invited to observe the trial. For further information, contact Nancy Archibald, Associate Director for Operations and Administration, at (757)221-2494 or clct@wm.edu.