Skip to content

Second Life as a medium for mock trials

I’m tardy in reporting two MUVE-related developments. First is that Prof. Nesson’s (Eon Berkman) has continued to experiment in Second Life by hosting mock trials, or cyber trials. Nesson observed that one of the major features/limitations of Second Life — use of text chat rather than speech — presents certain advantages when exploited creatively.

Nesson believes that most mock trials are limited in value because their pace does not allow novices to think through arguments carefully. The result is unclear presentation and excess verbiage. Here is where Second Life’s text chat comes in handy. While for regular communication chat can sometimes be frustratingly slow, by artificially throttling communication speed, it also forces the mock attorneys to be far more judicious with their words and sharper with their argumentation. Conveniently, text chat also generates its own easy-to-review transcript.

Cyber trial screenshot

The concluding exercise of this project can be found in this mock trial post-mortem. Here is an example of the self-generated transcript:

[13:22] Ulysses Korobase: What in particular where you interested in learning from Wolf’s unedited video?

[13:22] Witness: we believe that the unedited video may contain images of the assault described in the police statements

[13:22] Lilia Lamatia: objection

[13:22] Lilia Lamatia: speculation

[13:23] Witness: but there is no way to know for sure without seeing the cut content

[13:23] Eon Berkman: overruled, state of mind

One major distinction between this project and CyberOne is that the participants in this class were Harvard Law students, and the class was explicitly about law and entirely substantive. Another is that the class met physically, primarily, and Second Life was used for specific purposes.

Also see Charlie Nesson’s 2007 winter term Evidence course for earlier forays into trial advocacy in Second Life.

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 1 } Trackback

  1. […] Last month, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice hosted a conference marking the 150th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision, including a re-argument of the case. Fresh from his efforts to conduct mock trials in Second Life, Charlie Nesson came up with the idea of shooting a machinima version of the reargument — essentially the video version of a graphic novel. The idea was to boil the ideas down to their essence and in a format easily accessible to the general public. […]