Technology In The Courtroom

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The statistics that support incorporating the use of technology at trial are never-ending. In the United States people spend an average of 7.4 hrs (444 mins) each day looking at a screen. Most Americans cannot go more than 10 mins without checking their phone, but in the beginning of a trial jurors lose this privilege. They are selected to participate in a process that most do not enjoy and to make matters worse they’re prohibited from using any personal electronic devices. The use of technology at trial gives the jury a screen to satisfy their urge, if nothing else.

Years ago defense attorneys avoided using technology at trial for fear that it may lead to the “Big Screen” effect. This is where a jury observes defense counsel using technology and concludes that the defendant must be wealthy because they can afford such services. The thought is that, assuming liability is proven, this could hurt the defendant when the jury is deciding damages. In 2017 this is not the case. The CSI effect is real. Americans are accustomed to receiving and experiencing information electronically, not in print or poster boards. Presenting your case in a manner that is consistent with how jurors expect to receive it renders your argument that much easier to digest.

After 72 hours a juror remembers 10% of what they’ve heard, 20% of what they’ve seen, and 65% of what they’ve seen and heard. If you want the jury to remember your arguments you must present it to them in multiple formats.

I have tried roughly ten or more trials using technology. While the manner in which technology is used in each trial is different, the setup is almost always the same. A large screen is placed in front of the jury, along with a series of small monitors for the witness, attorneys, and judge. When presenting you can direct your trial tech to the appropriate document using bates stamp numbers and calling out specific sections.

For example: “Referring to documents collectively pre-marked as Exhibit D3. Please show the witness bates stamp 056. This is your treatment record from Philly Spine Center dated 04/02/15. That is your signature at the bottom of the document, correct? Your honor, may I have permission to publish this document to the jury? Please show bates stamp 056 on the jury screen and call out the bottom paragraph in the document.”

It may seem like a mouthful, but in reality it flows quite quickly.

Research shows that one large jury screen is more engaging than multiple small screens for each juror. Moreover, printing copies of a document and showing them to the witness for identification, then publishing them to the jury to share, doesn’t cut it. Not only is it a waste of time, but it’s ancient. An issue cured with technology. Jurors appreciate documents blown up for all to see. Additionally, if the evidence or photograph depicts what you said it would, then you garner their trust. It boosts your credibility. This is in no way a guaranteed victory, but now you have their attention and perhaps their favor.

A few very effective technology tools for trial are document callout, side-by-side, and smart deps. Use document callout to highlight key portions of a document for easy reading and to draw the viewer’s attention.

With side-by-side two documents are shown simultaneously highlighting similarities and differences.

Lastly, smart depositions are similar to a picture in a picture. One window may show the witness while the other shows the document that the witness is being presented with and questioned about.

Here is a video to see smart depositions in action.

 

Stay tuned for more on the use of technology at trial…

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