March 18 Lab Trial: CLCT to Use Technology to Provide Remote Foreign Language Interpretation & Evidence Presentation

The Center for Legal and Court Technology (CLCT) at the Law School will test its state-of-the-art technologies on Friday, March 18, during a lab trial designed to test the effectiveness of remote foreign language interpretation during a full-length trial. The lab trial will be begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at about 5 p.m. in the Law School's McGlothlin Courtroom, which is the world's most technologically advanced trial and appellate courtroom. Admission is free and the public is welcome to attend.

Given the United States' reputation as a great melting pot, it is not unusual for participants in court proceedings to require interpretation services in order to participate in a trial. During the lab trial, CLCT will experiment with different ways of providing interpretation services, including through the use of video-teleconferencing.

The case is expected to be significant in light of the country's need for and shortage of qualified foreign language interpreters, said Professor Fredric I. Lederer, Chancellor Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Legal and Court Technology, a joint initiative of the Law School and the National Center for State Courts.

"Trial participants in our country often lack sufficient command of the English language to properly understand proceedings or to participate in them," said Lederer. "Modern technologies allow courts to share qualified interpreters, especially certified court interpreters, and to obtain interpreter services from distant locations. That should increase the availability for quality interpretation and decrease cost."

The lab trial's simulated case, United States v. Chiu, is centered around a simulated federal criminal case in which the defendant is charged with attempted murder incident to racketeering. The trial is designed to allow CLCT to experiment with different ways of using remote foreign language interpretation as well as how to use tablets for evidence presentation to jurors.  CLCT also anticipates that the case will include the world's first trial-length virtual reality court record and tablets for displaying evidence to jurors.

The hypothetical case stems from the actions of Samuel Shan-Ho Chiu, who came to the United States in October 2013 and has lived in San Francisco since that time.  An alleged member of the fictional Hop Sing Boyz Triad, Chiu allegedly shot at a member of a rival triad in Williamsburg in an effort to improve his position in the triad. The Hop Sing Boyz are allegedly involved in drug dealing, prostitution, protection rackets, and other forms of crime and have recently begun limited operations in Virginia. Chiu was arrested after the alleged shooting incident and his trial forms the  basis of the Center's examination of remote foreign language interpretation and juror tablet use.

Although this case is based on fictional elements, it will be tried realistically with many of its participants being non-native English speakers who might require interpretation services to communicate effectively in a trial or hearing. Additionally, the Center anticipates having a visiting judge try the case.

This experiment is being conducted with the support of numerous companies and organizations including the Federal Judicial Center, Cisco, Brother, and Microsoft.

The Center for Legal and Court Technology, formerly known as the Courtroom 21 Project, is an ongoing international demonstration and experimental effort which seeks to determine how technology can best improve all components of the legal system. In 2015, for example, the Center's lab trial involved the world's first known remote juror who appeared by remote video-teleconference from her home.

In 2010, the Center's lab trial was notable for having been about the technology itself. That lab trial focused on the difficulties in ascertaining whether the accused had actually been responsible for creating the digital evidence used against them at trial or whether the evidence had (in part or whole) been manufactured by a third party and then falsely attributed to the accused.

Journalists are invited to observe the case. Space is limited and media interested in attending should reserve seats as early as possible by calling Christine Williams at (757) 221-3836 or emailing [[w|crwilliams]] or Mary Beth Dalton at (757) 221-2494 or emailing [[w|medalt]].