ASCLD Emerging Issues: COVID-19 – Remote Testimony

ASCLD Emerging Issues: COVID-19 – Remote Testimony

This webinar originally occurred on March 24, 2021
Duration: 1 hour


The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immeasurable impact on workplaces around the world. Organizations have had to rapidly implement operational changes in order to ensure the safety of workers and the continued timely delivery of products and services. In this webinar, our subject matter experts spoke about specific topics related to remote testimony.

Webinar Moderated by: Tony Tessarolo | Director of the Centre of Forensic Sciences, Toronto, ON

Testifying from the “COVID Box”

In many places, remote testimony will simply not be permitted in criminal cases due to confrontation concerns. When in-person testimony is required, how do we fulfill obligations to the criminal justice system while still supporting the safety of testifying witnesses? The section discussed in-person testimony considerations and possible requests or avenues to mitigate those concerns during the COVID-19 era. This section utilized Texas court system protocols and processes of the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas Health Science Center to illustrate potential issues and solutions.

Presenter: Dawn Moore Boswell | Director of Legal Forensics & Training, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Center for Human Identification

Video Testimony in Montana

The Montana Forensic Science Division has utilized video testimony within its courts system for over ten years. It has been increasingly utilized over the last four years based on the improvements in technology. The webinar discussed circumstances for video testimony, lessons on educating the court system, and avenues used to increase its acceptance.

Presenter: Scott Larson | Administrator, Montana Forensic Science Division and Medical Examiners Office

The Pandemic, Video Testimony & The ‘New Normal’: Criminal Litigation & The Legal Lay of the Land

What will court in the post pandemic world look like? Is video or remote court the new normal? Will forensic experts be testifying from their offices or laboratories? The answers to these and other questions may not be as easy to discern as some people think. Indeed, if as Shakespeare said the ‘past is prologue,’ the presentation of forensic science testimony in future criminal litigation will be informed by an understanding of how testimony has been a flashpoint in judicial proceedings long before the pandemic forced new issues to be immediately addressed. By assessing aspects such as 6th Amendment confrontation and cross examination with the use of video testimony, Constitutional rights versus trial strategy, state-to-state differences between depositions and court rules, and statutes allowing (and court decisions upholding) the use of video testimony in cases involving children, this presentation provided a wide range of perspectives on the challenges surrounding remote video testimony.

Presenter: Mike DiLauroRhode Island Department of the Public Defender, Providence, RI

Detailed Learning Objectives

  1. Identify issues to consider and address during in-person pandemic testimony.
  2. Understand court implemented protocols.
  3. Review Montana’s use of video testimony.
  4. Discuss ways Montana Forensic Science Division educates the participants in the court systems for increased acceptance of this technology.

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence webinar has been provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this webinar are those of the presenter(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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