Effect of Visual Elements on the Perception of Jurors in Computer Re-enactments of Crime Scenes

G. Derksen (UK)


technology, animation, courtroom re-enactment, demonstrative evidence


Computer-animated re-enactments of criminal incidents have been used to summarize the facts in a visual form at various stages in the legal process across the United States and to a lesser extent in Canada. In some cases, animation has been introduced into the courtroom as demonstrative evidence, but little research has been done on the effect of animation quality on jurors. Quality of animation is dependent on a large number of factors, but three of the primary variables are motion, texture, and lighting. This study examined both the effect of these variables on the jurors' judgment of factors related to interpretation of the events portrayed, and the jurors' own reported experiences of watching an animated re enactment. Specifically, measures were recorded of the jurors' interpretation of the participant's activities in terms of perceived aggression, curiosity, jealousy, fear, provocation, relationships, roles and responsibilities, and guilt and innocence. Jurors were also asked about their own emotional experience upon watching the animation. The results indicate that the jurors' interpretation of the participant's activities are influenced by these visual elements, and also help confirm that jurors will become more engaged in the animation as motion, texture, and lighting are rendered in more sophisticated ways. However, the increased degree of emotional involvement did not affect the opinion of the jury concerning delegation of responsibility among the persons involved in the re-enacted incident, or the jury's final judgment about the event. This study therefore supports the merits of using animation for illustrating crime scenes in a court room as demonstrative evidence, although further research is necessary.

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