WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WKBN) – A courtroom in Virginia is testing new technology that could change the way court cases are handled across the U.S.

William and Mary Law School’s McGlothlin Courtroom is equipped with a hologram machine that is being tested for its use in virtual witness testimony. Called the Epic, the machine was designed by the company Proto for other uses in retail and live shows and events, but Fredrick Lederer, Chancellor Professor of Law and director of the Center for Legal and Court Technology at William and Mary Law School, said he was intrigued about its potential uses in the courtroom.

“We heard about them, and so we called them, and they said, ‘We’ve never thought about this before, but it’s interesting,’ and that’s what launched this whole thing,” he said.

Lederer said the equipment is promising. He said with the equipment, it is comparable to having the person physically in the courtroom.

Lederer said it could be used now in civil cases and for defense testimony in criminal cases, in lieu of other video-conferencing software. The court would just need the Epic machine in the courtroom, which he said is compatible with simple video hook-ups and even smartphones.

The question is whether the equipment meets the standards for the prosecution’s witnesses, as under the 6th Amendment, defendants have the right to confront their accusers in criminal cases.

“That’s based, in part, on the thought in the legal system that jurors and judges can recognize when in-person witnesses are not telling the complete and accurate truth as well as the thought that the opposing witness ought to be made to be in the courtroom to realize how serious the case is,” Lederer explained.

Years ago, Lederer said he was involved in two controlled experiments of remote testimony to determine whether there were any biases. The jury returned the same result when using witnesses virtually as they did when the witnesses were physically present.

The same experiment will be conducted with the hologram to see if they receive the same results.

“So the legal question will be, is this constitutionally the same as being there? And if it is, it’s going to change prosecutions throughout the United States because we can then have remote prosecution witnesses,” he said.

The court has been using the hologram since October.