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What next for legal tech 3D printing par for the course?

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What next for legal tech – 3D printing par for the course?


Even the most IT-savvy lawyers might not have predicted the role played by tech in a recent criminal case, which looks truly twenty-first century (as things so rarely do, even now).

Over at City College Plymouth, a team of tech and design staff were approached by the police to help in a high-profile murder trial. A promising young footballer’s career had been cut short during a violent altercation at a cab rank outside a nightclub. He had been stabbed in the neck, and central to the trial was the way in which the murder weapon had been used.

However, the weapon was a broken beer bottle, and hardly suited to a repeat performance in the witness stand. The police therefore approached the college to use their 3D printing technology to make a replica bottle – a ground-breaking use of tech to assist both defence and prosecution lawyers in their cross-examination of the witness. “We worked into the evening and over the weekend”, said a weary representative for the College, perhaps very slightly to the amusement of any lawyers present. The process took 28 hours, with the replica being built layer-by-layer on a state-of-the-art ‘Cubex’ printer.

A spokesman for Plymouth’s Major Crime Team said: “Thanks to the replica of the murder weapon they produced, the prosecution was able to safely ask the defendant to demonstrate how he had held the bottle when he struck the victim and allowed the Barrister, Simon Laws QC, to closely cross examine him on this aspect of his evidence.” The defendant was found guilty, and handed down a 22-year life sentence.

It’s not difficult to foresee a time when lawyers routinely turn to litigation support professionals – already well ahead of the curve with legal tech such as eDisclosure and eDiscovery – to help present evidence in this way. 3D printers are already a more familiar (if not precisely common) sight, and this trial is surely unlikely to prove an anomaly.

The crucial point in this case is that the use of tech is being driven by the needs of lawyers, the courts and the ends of justice. At Legastat, we understand that tech innovations should be viewed as tools to refine and develop legal practice, and help lawyers deliver the best possible service to their clients. If you are looking to ensure you harness the possibilities of legal tech – even if you are not quite at the stage of seeking out 3D printed objects – contact the litigation support professionals at Legastat now.