CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Bloch on VR and Prosecutorial Misconduct

Kate Bloch (University of California Hastings College of the Law) has posted Harnessing Virtual Reality to Prevent Prosecutorial Misconduct (Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, 2019, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Prosecutorial failure to disclose material exculpatory evidence has put innocent people on death row and left others languishing in prison for decades. More than half a century ago, in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Constitution requires prosecutors in criminal cases to disclose such evidence to the defense. Scholars now attribute much of this failure to cognitive biases, which can cause distortions in information processing. This Article proposes a novel approach for preventing such prosecutorial error. Applying recent advances in cognitive science research, the Article explores the potential for immersive virtual experiences to disrupt cognitive biases. Disrupting such biases could enable prosecutors to more effectively see the exculpatory nature of evidence and be inclined to disclose that evidence. If the power of digital avatars can be harnessed for this purpose, avatars may reinforce or re-introduce self-regulation as a first line of defense against Brady violations.

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