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Facial recognition is not needed (yet) for virtual civil trials


biometric facial recognition

One of the most tech-resistant sectors of U.S. society, the civil courts, is holding the line on digital innovation. Offered the chance to employ biometrics as a kind of proctor in virtual civil trials, some in the legal profession are saying no, thank you.

The problem of distracted jurors is real, according to a Law.com article. But the intrusiveness and concern over privacy attached to the use of facial recognition algorithms have insiders looking at far simpler answers.

Prevail Legal, which makes remote deposition software, is considering developing a solution for jury monitoring. In the article, Prevail chief executive Rob Feigenbaum is quoted saying the adoption of AI applications relying on facial recognition to detect distracted jurors is all but inevitable.

“With jurors, I don’t think it will be downloading anything, I think it will be AI to basically tell if you’re focused on what is on the screen based on your facial expressions and following what you’re looking at, as opposed to knowing what you just opened in your tabs,” he says.

The American legal system might as well be a perpetual motion machine, continuously growing in volume and complexity. Putting people on Zoom and expecting judges and lawyers to spot woolgathering — or worse, internet surfing — is unrealistic, according to Feigenbaum.

Yet lawyers and a Texas judicial district court judge contacted for the Law.com story said the situation is more manageable than is presented by the vendor.

People are successful in paying attention if for no other reason than they are grateful to not have to attend court during a pandemic.

The district court judge, Roy Ferguson, says Texas distributes lobotomized iPads to participants. The devices can only operate Zoom and Box apps.

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