Digital White Papers

Litigation and Practice Support — May 2015

publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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ILTA WHITE PAPER: MAY 2015 WWW.ILTANET.ORG 39 EIGHT TIPS FOR USING TECHNOLOGY TO PERSUADE A JURY 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." Professor Lederer cited another trial at the McGlothin Courtroom where a juror was visibly bothered because she felt one side was trying to cover up something. It turns out she was right. One exhibit was a document. The prosecution wanted to highlight one paragraph, so they enlarged it and placed it high on the screen. The juror explained, correctly, that in highlighting one part of the document, they were blocking another part, which she felt was important. REMEMBER THE BLACK SLIDE Watch any classic trial movie, such as "To Kill a Mockingbird," and you'll see attorneys putting on an oratorical show to a mesmerized jury. 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. HAVE A BACKUP While we're on the subject of courtroom movies, remember the classic scene where the avuncular defense attorney has a heart attack in the midst of his closing arguments, leaving the team scrambling for a replacement? Of course not — in Hollywood movies, nothing goes wrong. However, you need to be prepared. It's a good idea to bring a spare laptop and light projector, to have all your data on a USB stick, and to bring paper copies of everything. looking down to see those images, in which case. "I call it staring at foreheads," says Fredric Lederer, Chancellor Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Legal & Court Technology at William & Mary Law School. Lederer adds, "Traditionally, some trial lawyers think the courtroom revolves around them. It can be disconcerting if all the jurors are looking down at their monitors, depriving counsel of visual feedback. 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. Try to visit the courtroom a few days before trial to observe the layout, lighting, location of plugs, etc. You might even be able to look it up online. And, if you're planning to use a computer or tablet to present the case, test it to ensure compatibility with the courtroom technology. 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. 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," says Lederer. He cited a mock trial in which a juror explained why he didn't trust the prosecution's story in a plane crash scenario. Graphic designs of the aircraft were livened up with some scenery that included a lake. Because the crash site was in the Las Vegas area, the juror immediately discounted the prosecution and dismissed all other evidence, as he believed that no lake could exist in the desert terrain. When designing a graphic for the jury, include only the relevant images. Resist the urge to spruce it up. Keith R. Dutill agrees. Author of Leveraging Technology To Win at Trial and a partner at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, Dutill adds, "The best visuals in opening and closing statements are often images or single words to short phrases. Putting endless bullet points on slides, then reading those slides to the jury is worse than using no visuals at all." In an effort to educate all court participants before trial, The Courtroom Information Project at the William & Mary Law School offers photographs and information on each participating courtroom's available technology. Visit

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