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Technology to be put to test in simulated U.S.-Canada hearing

The Center for Legal and Court Technology (CLCT), a joint initiative of William & Mary Law School and the National Center for State Courts, will conduct a simulated bi-national marine commission hearing on March 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. EST in Williamsburg, Va., and Montreal, Canada, to determine how legislative hearings can best use modern technology to enhance success, efficiency and transparency.

Working in conjunction with the University of Montreal's Cyberjustice Laboratory, a fictional commission will use state-of-the-art technology to conduct a quasi-legislative inquiry with panels working concurrently in Canada and the United States.

The commission's work will focus on the following fictional occurrence: On Jan. 13- 17, 2013, Sam Steuer of the Pacifica Marine Life Preservation Foundation released approximately 250 tons of iron filings into the ocean west of Washington State and Vancouver Island. He did so with the primary intent to create an experimental plankton bloom that would capture carbon dioxide, thus helping to remediate the effects of global warming. He and his vessel were intercepted by the United States Coast Guard immediately after release of the filings. Even if useful, such "geoengineering" can have harmful side effects and is highly controversial as well as unlawful in at least some areas. Increasing interest in coping with the adverse weather effects of global warming as well as concern about the collateral effects of  ocean "vandalism" led the United States and Canada to create a joint commission to inquire into this incident and to make recommendations to the governments of both nations as to potential executive or legislative action.

The Williamsburg hearing will take place in William & Mary Law School's McGlothlin Courtroom, the world's most technologically advanced trial and appellate courtroom. The Montreal hearing will take place in the University of Montreal's Cyberjustice Laboratory, Canada's most technologically advanced courtroom. The commission's technology will include extensive use of videoconferencing to enable the two panels to work together, remote testimony, cloud-based access to relevant documents, electronic display of evidence, and a realtime multi-media court record. Expert testimony will be supplied by two faculty members from William & Mary's School of Marine Science (Virginia Institute of Marine Science): Professor Walker O. Smith, Jr., and Professor Deborah K. Steinberg.

Interested in going?  This event is free and open to the public. To reserve a seat, please contact the Center for Legal and Court Technology at (757) 221-2494 or