UIC John Marshall Journal of Information Technology & Privacy Law


A.D.A.M. is a CD-ROM based, interactive, anatomical program that permits the user to view and observe the anatomical aspect of the human body used in medical schools throughout the United States. A.D.A.M. and its female counterpart E.V.E., use high-resolution graphics and color animation to show views of the human body from every conceivable angle simulating various traumas to the body. Utilizing a mouse, the A.D.A.M. user can "point and click" to reveal the various parts of the human body. Potentially, attorneys can use A.D.A.M. to demonstrate injuries and surgeries to the trier of fact in a trial proceeding. The trial judge has several options in determining whether A.D.A.M. is admissible: the common law approach to demonstrative evidence, the Frye standard of general acceptance in the relevant scientific community or the relevancy/balancing test promulgated by the Federal Rules of Evidence. A.D.A.M. can be introduced as demonstrative evidence. Although A.D.A.M. cannot portray an actual event, A.D.A.M. is helpful in explaining, illustrating and visualizing an incident at issue. However, demonstrative evidence is usually assailed as evoking emotions, such as sympathy and repugnance, that may prejudice the jury's deliberation of the trial. As a result, A.D.A.M. must be prepared to meet the strictest standards possible with the most airtight foundation that can be construed. Conclusively, the underlying foundation can be established if the computer generated display is sufficiently reliable to aid in the determination of truth. In addition, A.D.A.M. can be introduced as scientific evidence under Frye. Under this test, A.D.A.M. becomes substantive evidence and is no longer demonstrative. However, this test requires more than expert testimony to establish sufficient foundation. This test requires that the underlying principle is sufficiently established and general acceptance in the members of the particular scientific field. Alternatively, A.D.A.M. can be introduced under the relevancy/balancing test. Under this test, the evidence's probative value must outweigh the potential prejudice that may result from its admission. Consequently, A.D.A.M. may be admitted in conjunction with the expert's testimony, if its probative value outweighs the potential prejudice. The lack of precedent that addresses the issues of admitting computer-generated materials in the courtroom creates a need for a proper and exhaustive foundation addressing the admissibility of A.D.A.M. Establishing a proper foundation requires authentication and identification by appropriate witnesses, such as A.D.A.M.'s computer programmers and technicians. Consequently, the adverse party has the opportunity to cross-examine A.D.A.M. by questioning its technicians and programmers. Under the Federal Rules of Evidence 901(1)(a), A.D.A.M. can be authenticated by witnesses identifying A.D.A.M. or providing a brief explanation for the trier of fact to understand what is exhibited. First, A.D.A.M. must be substantiated. Second, A.D.A.M. must depict a true and "fair representation" of the scene. Finally, A.D.A.M. may also be admitted under the residual exception to the hearsay rule. A.D.A.M. must demonstrate that its data is reliable and that the proponent can demonstrate that reasonable persons conducting serious affairs would rely on A.D.A.M. Conclusively, A.D.A.M's extraordinary function in depicting certain incidents that has been traditionally restricted to verbal description or artistic rendition makes it a powerful tool in the courtroom.