Once you put a case in suit, the correct use and dynamic implementation of technology and demonstrative graphics can give you a favorable outcome.
Whether you are preparing for arbitration, mediation, or trial, taking advantage of the technologies available to most effectively present your evidence can add value to your case.
I have enjoyed introducing various technologies into the courtroom myself, but I thought that the best way to really explore this topic would be to seek insight from someone who has focused solely on the use of technology in litigation over the course of a career: Chris Gillespie.
Gillespie is a principal and founder of Innovative Trial Services. Chris has extensive technical skills in various computer platforms and network environments. To put it simply, Chris’s team simplifies the complex so you can concentrate on the legal aspects of your case.
When Chris began his career as a trial technology consultant more than 20 years ago, trial technology and demonstrative animations and graphics were used only in very large cases involving millions of dollars of exposure.
Chris Gillespie is a principal and founder of Innovative Trial Services.
Over the past two decades, that has changed, of course. Today “electronic evidence,” demonstrative animations, and dynamic graphics are becoming commonplace in courtrooms and alternative settlement settings.
Benefits of Trial Technology and Graphic Demonstratives
While working with trial teams to understand how to most effectively present the facts of a case through visual evidence, Gillespie learned that about 70 percent of people are visual learners. Your target audience of arbitrators, mediators, judges, and jurors retain and recall things that they see much better than what they simply hear.
The use of well-designed demonstrative graphics can simplify complex concepts and processes and make them easier for a jury to understand.
Further, displaying exhibits on a screen or monitor and having the ability to call-out or highlight the most important aspects of an exhibit as you talk keeps a jury engaged.
The use of technology in any of these ways allows you to more effectively convey your message to the jury and it increases the chance that they will both understand and remember what you want them to.
And, quite frankly, more and more jurors are expecting lawyers to use technology given their own use of technology in their day-to-day lives.
Trial Technology and Demonstratives Tools
Numerous applications are available for use, depending on what platform you choose to present with.
If you use an iPad, the most commonly used app is TrialPad. I use TrialPad because it is extremely cost effective (a one-time cost of less than $150), and I enjoy its companion app, TranscriptPad.
TrialPad allows for the dynamic and interactive presentation of evidence. For example, you can showcase two documents side-by-side and then “call out” a portion of one document so the jury actually watches the evidence come to life. TrialPad allows you to highlight text (either live or in advance of trial and saved as a “Key Document”), redact text, and mark-up exhibits (with either a virtual pen or laser pointer built into the program).
TranscriptPad is an app that makes it possible to read and review a transcript and create an interactive “summary” of the transcript. For example, as you review a deposition transcript in TranscriptPad, you can “tag” every single entry that discusses neck pain. A sidebar report is created within the transcript so that you can easily go back at a later date and “click” on the links within the report and you will be taken to the exact spots in the transcript where those mentions exist. You can create as many or as few reference reports within a transcript as you wish. TranscriptPad makes it much easier to organize testimony and access it quickly within a trial.
OnCue and TrialDirector 360
However, if you prefer Windows as your presentation platform, the two leading applications available are OnCue and TrialDirector 360. Both of these applications can also be run on a Mac – however, you would need to use a Windows emulation software program such as Parallels, VMware Fusion, or Apple’s Boot Camp. Both of the Windows programs have similar features and functionality to TrialPad, described in detail above.
Graphics and Animations
Demonstrative graphics and animations also come in many forms. Graphics can be static or animated depending on what tools are used to create and present them. Microsoft PowerPoint is a great choice for presenting demonstratives, whether the graphics are static or animated. Adobe Creative Cloud has all of the tools necessary to make impactful demonstratives as well.
Choosing the Best Technology Solution for Your Case
There are many variables when deciding what technology tools are right for you and your case at trial.
The complexity of your case is one of the most important things to consider. If your case is a fairly simple matter – meaning the evidence is straightforward and there are not a voluminous number of exhibits – TrialPad may be the best and most cost-effective choice.
If, however, your case is voluminous with many complex issues, then a program such as OnCue or TrialDirector 360 would be a better choice.
It also helps to consider your target audience: Are you presenting to a judge who has heard hundreds of cases or a jury that is comprised of individuals with drastically differing levels of education and knowledge of the type of subject matter you are presenting?
You should also consider your own presentation style: Do you like to walk in front of the jury box and make eye contact with the jurors? Or are you more comfortable presenting from counsel table or standing behind a podium?
It is helpful to think about whether you will be running the presentation software on your own, using a colleague, or hiring a trial technology consultant to help with this part of the trial.
All of these considerations will help you determine the best technology fit for you and your case.
Hiring a Consultant
When deciding whether to hire a trial consultant, Gillespie suggests a few things to consider.
One of the benefits of using a trial consultant is that it allows you to concentrate on the legal aspects of the case while the consultant assumes the responsibility for all of the technology that will be used during a trial.
An experienced consultant knows how to troubleshoot and solve technology issues as they arise, without those issues becoming apparent to the client, the court, or jurors. It is also important for you to know whether opposing counsel is using a consultant or not.
When retaining a consultant, your team gains the advantage of having someone who has “hot-seated” numerous trials – this means the advantage of that vast courtroom experience, juror observations, and technological expertise are all working to improve the value of your own case.
Practice, Practice, Practice
If you decide that using the trial technology on your own is best for your case, it can be a good idea to get initial training before the trial from a consultant who has experience with the application you are using.
It is always good to practice and rehearse your presentation before you go to court, regardless of your decision to engage a consultant. Practicing with your witnesses and integrating your technology into that rehearsal allows your witnesses to become familiar not only with their examination but with what is going to happen while they are on the stand from an evidentiary presentation standpoint.
The use of trial technology with or without a consultant allows you to present a more engaging and impactful presentation of your case to the judge or jury.
Technology and demonstrative graphics bring your evidence to life and present it in a way that effectively resonates with your fact finder.
This article was originally published on the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Litigation Section Blog. Visit the State Bar sections or the Litigation Section web pages to learn more about the benefits of section membership.