Note: A version of this article, written by Francis George, was originally published by ILTA in May 2015.
Courtroom presentation technology is here to stay. Not only do many federal courts have projectors, screens and monitors, some city traffic courts have the technology of a Star Trek episode. However, there are state courts still relying on the same technology from Brown v. Board of Education, so it’s a good idea to check ahead of time.
However, knowing the technology is available isn’t enough. It’s more important to know how to use the technology. Here are best practices and tips on how to use courtroom presentation technology in your favor.
1. Keep it Simple. An attorney coaching a witness might say, “Answer the question as briefly as possible.” The same principle applies when showing evidence to the jury. Humans can get distracted by the littlest detail, and if that detail isn’t relevant to the case, it can distract a jury member.
2. Don’t Block the Evidence. When doing a call-out – emphasizing part of an exhibit electronically – don’t accidentally block part of it without explanation.
3. Remember the Black Slide. If you want a jury to look at you instead of their monitors during your closing argument, you need a black slide in your presentation; otherwise, you’ll be looking at the dreaded 12 foreheads.
4. Use both Linear and Nonlinear Software. Begin with a tightly controlled presentation that highlights key points of your opening, and highlight the strongest portions of your case in the closing. Upon direct or cross- examination, use nonlinear litigation software, which allows you to publish exhibits in any order, at any time.
5. Bring on the Emotion. The rebuttal is all about passion, so that is the time to limit reliance on technology, notes Patrick Muscat. The logic portion of the program has concluded, and now it’s time to pour on the emotion. If you absolutely need a visual aid, just bring up exhibits you’ve already used.
6. Keep an Eye on New Trends. One new trend is the use of iPads and tablets in the courtroom. The next generation of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology is here, allowing laptops and tablets to connect to monitors and projectors wirelessly. The idea is to walk into court with just your tablet and sync up to the court’s equipment so you can display your work.
* * *
What technology tips would you add?
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
6 Enhancements to LexisNexis Software and Litigation Tools