Have you ever heard that juries remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see and 50% of what they hear and see? I have, and I’ve actually have used it many times while explaining why trial presentations are beneficial.
While researching for an upcoming CLE, articles:
Here’s a keynote presentation we put together for a mediation in west Texas involving an 18 wheeler driver that fell asleep and hit oncoming traffic. This PowerPoint was used in mediation to help the plaintiff’s attorney explain his stance on the case to the mediator and insurance adjuster.
*Note: The family names, pictures and demands have been edited.
Here’s a tutorial I created on how to use apple’s keynote to effectively use bullet points that could be displayed in a trial or mediation presentation. If you need to use bullet points (and it’s hard not to, but it can be done) his effect will hopefully help the jury or mediator follow along.
(This is a 100mb file please give it time to load, the final effect is about 9 minutes in)
Last week we were hired to provide litigation support and present evidence in a local criminal trial where the defendant was accused of tampering with a witness and false entry on a government record.
You can read more about the trial from news reports here, here and here. But what I wanted to write about is a strategy that I’ve never seen or used before in my career of litigation support.
The technology should be as transparent as possible, not a distraction, some others don’t seem to care. Here’s some annoyances that I have seen from “the other side” while sitting through trial. (note: these are tips for technologists and “hot seat” running attorneys.)
Most attorneys, paralegals and litigation support staff don’t understand that Legal PowerPoint / Keynote presentations are supposed to be used to help support the story, not tell it. The attorney is Batman and the PowerPoint, Robin.
Continuing legal education is an area of the legal systems that we feel is very important, so much so that we offer presentation creation and editing of existing presentations free of charge for certain CLE events (contact us for more information if you feel that your presentation could benefit from our charitable offers).
I’ve been somewhat surprised at the amount of topics here in Texas that involve how to survive after tort reform passing. We created this PowerPoint presentation for use with a local group of plaintiff attorneys.
A while back we created this presentation in Keynote for use in a hearing where the attorneys were explaining to the Judge why this matter should be granted class action status. It’s difficult to explain the argument in text, but generally they were arguing that the fraud was occurring while using the US Postal service. The confusing part is that they also shipped via Fedex/UPS, which threw a kink into the theory.
Take a look at the video below for a video example of the slides.
I was reading an article today on SBOT.org (which is the state bar of Texas’ Technology sections blog) about “story boarding” presentations for the courtroom. Pretty interesting article and I agree with the philosphy. But what caught my eye is this quote:
“Practice Tip: If you’re using a Powerpoint (or Keynote) to persuade a Judge, create a Handout for him/her.
I don’t think I’ve ever recommended a client to do that, I always print out copies but they are normally for the attorneys to have in hand while giving the presentation or for producing to opposing counsel to review. That’s something I’m always going to suggest from now on.
Literally 45 seconds later I click on over to The Mac Lawyer and notice Ben Stevens has recently posted a great walk-through on how to print handouts in Keynote.
Thanks for the help Ben, perfect timing!
Laser pointers are very useful during presentations, allowing the speaker to point important areas on the display screen from across the room. Red laser pointers are the most common type and use a lower powered light, normally a 650nm wavelength. You can get a common red laser pointer for less than $20 today. Green laser pointers have recently become more popular and are powered by a more powerful laser (usually a 532nm wavelength), making them much more visible that red lasers. Some green laser pointers are more than 50 times more powerful than the red ones, and can even burn paper and cast a visible beam even in a lighted room. The low-end green laser pointers start at about $50 and can go up to several hundred dollars for a more high powered one. We use Green laser pointer on our presentation and they work great they are brighter than the Red lasers and are easier to follow on the screen.
Now since Green lasers are more powerful than the Red one, it is important to keep in mind that people have been arrested for pointing them at planes, at people at sporting events, and at or around law enforcement officers. So use them wisely – laser pointers ARE NOT toys and should not be used in any way to cause damage to people or property.
Technology is cheap! Acquiring a full courtroom monitor setup (plaintiff, defense, witness, judge, dual display) would cost a fortune only a couple years ago. Now you can have a slick outfit for a relatively good price. But don’t let this confuse you…
A Trial Tech view reader from California saw our Negligence board example and had use create a similar board but with the definition of Proximate Cause. We mailed him the print and he had it mounted at Kinkos/Fedex. We printed an extra copy and mounted it, think it turned out pretty good.
Adobe TV revealed the CS5 launch today, with the Creative Suite 5 Production Premium Kit, it’s pricey – but reaming with the goods needed for any designer serious about their work.. The kit includes an upgraded Photoshop with “Truer Edge, which has better edge detecting technology, and of course Content-Aware Fill, which definitely looks like magic.”
With 64-bit applications built from the ground up, that means we can now render video files much faster and provide a better service for our clients with all their video needs.
With two more trials coming up next week I went ahead and prepared some “stock boards” as we like to call them. We offer them to our clients to show the panel the actual legal definitions, rather than trying to explain from notes. We often ship these to the city we are working in and have them mounted locally as well.
While this is a Voir Dire example, using boards in litigation is effective with everything from opening statement to expert witnesses to closing arguments. With the ability to leave them laying around where the jury always gets a constant reminder of what is one them we are huge advocates of combining these with trial presentations.
Here’s an example of Negligence:
Adobe Acrobat has some amazing and simple features that do not come in the free download of Adobe Reader. Probably one of my personal favorites, is the ability to combine .pdf’s, insert and extract pages as well as separate all pages into separate files. Ok, simple you say whats so amazing about that? Well from experience, I know it’s time consuming to open a document page-by-page, document-by-document. It’s convenient to combine them, and be able to scroll through all of the pages at once without having to open and close files. Also sometimes you may only want to produce certain pages, the extract pages feature then might come into play. Until next time…
In this example my client was able to save the expense of live testimony. At the same time, he got his demonstrative evidence of the surgery admitted, and sometimes getting this sort of evidence admitted can be an authoritative issue if you have no one in court to prove it up.
While completing some last minute synch’ing for one of the two trials that we provided litigation support for last week, I came across a great technique that I had never seen done before.
My client pulled up the doctor’s website (the deponent), where he had an animation of the surgery that was preformed waiting to be played back. The camera focused on the laptop screen and this is what the jury saw (remember it’s a 100″ screen they’re viewing this on):
The next question was:
5 Q. All right. Thank you. And the — Those slides
6 as well as the chart that you described earlier, do
7 those reasonably and accurately depict this type of –
8 of surgery and also the condition that you described for
9 us earlier?
10 A. Yes.
While it may not be on the top of your “what to do in a deposition” list, it’s wise to consider displaying your demonstrative evidence while in the video deposition.
Listening to a doctor explain a procedure is one of the most difficult topics for a jury to visualize. Any case that involves injuries, whether it be a medical malpractice suit or a car wreck benefits from a quality medical illustration or animation. DLS does not create our own medical illustrations for use in our presentations, this is a very specialized field that takes a graphic designer with an extensive medical background. We suggest our clients to use a company based out of Dallas named MediVisuals.
While I can’t attest to how many illustrations they have, I do know that I’ve never had a client make a request they couldn’t produce. The downfall of using a company such as MediVisuals is the cost, while each illustration differs in price, they are normally very cost prohibitive for smaller cases (car wrecks), but are extremely useful if your case can justify the cost.
The next time you have a case involving an injury or botched medical procedure, put yourself in a jurors shoes… Would you be able to visualize what your expert is discussing? If not, I highly recommend using medical illustrations or animations.
During the course of our online creation process, I’m routinely presented with a piece of paper with events on it. Timeline’s are important in almost all litigation. Upon reviewing the material from this presentation, I counted a total of 12 different events that the attorney wanted to present. All on the same slide.
This seems to be a substantial problem in litigation presentations. The “average” lawsuit always contains too many points the attorney wants to make. Trimming those down to be as specific and important as possible is always my number one priority. Unfortunately in this case, all 12 points needed to be made.
I originally tried to fit all of the data in horizontally as I feel juries have an easier time reading from right to left. Version after version I could not make all the data fit and still be decipherable…That is until I decided to use a vertical timeline and was able to make it all come together, as you can see below!
I’ve worked for both sides on multiple occasions and oddly enough the majority of the time it’s at the request of my client. Cost is the reason I see it being suggested the most. The question you have to ask yourself is; will I save enough to make it beneficial to my case?
If the case is straight forward (we still work a lot of car wrecks) and there really isn’t much trial strategy involved other than presenting the evidence and facts, I think it can be very useful. Our role in these cases usually involves making clips, and calling up documents. I might create a few opening/closing slides for either side. And that’s about it.
Note that it does benefit both sides, the speed of the trial, and the general organization of the parties. In many matters, if the costs weren’t shared it would not be cost effective to use our services in the trial. It is amazing how quickly a trial speeds up when there is very little fumbling around and looking for misplaced exhibits. I think the jury, judge, and court staff appreciate it as well. Everything just flows smoother.
Now that’s a small minority of the cases that benefit from the use of Trial Technology, and the only situation where I would suggest or support the idea. Where technology really shines is when the case is complex, hard to understand, and involves hundreds of videos and hundreds of thousands of documents. In these situations I think the experience, knowledge and overall qualities of the individual Trial Tech’s come into play.
Another benefit of is on many occasions I pull a document up for my client and when the opposing attorney wants to cross examine on that document, they find they don’t have it scanned. This doesn’t happen when the Tech is working on both sides. Either it’s loaded or not (and when it’s not we rush to scan it).
Those two “convenience” reasons are the only real reasons why a large trial should share a Tech. Cost should not be one, and these are the reasons I explain to my clients:
You need independence to gain an additional outside view. A competent Trial Tech might have some great suggestions for topics/questions the attorney might have overlooked. When I’m working on both sides, I keep my mouth shut.
Also, the added stress of having giving your trial strategy to someone that is working for the other side makes for some awkward situations. I’ve never run been asked about the trial strategy of my client from opposing counsel, but if you potentially had millions at stake, how would you feel about having open trial strategy communications in front of “some guy” that is about to go meet with your adversary? It just doesn’t work. This single issue is big enough to forget about sharing a trial tech, we’re just too involved in the inner working of the case.
Another problem that is bound to come up is how do you separate the time restraints? You’ve only got one trial tech, how can they make clips during no examination times? What about at night, who gets those few valuable hours of the Tech’s time? The answer can’t be “bring on another tech” as you can then wave your cost savings away.
There are many reasons not to share a Trial Tech these are just some of them. I’ll stress again, it’s not the best idea if the case has any complexity to it at all. The only time that it would be feasible is if the case is small with not many disagreements nor strategy.