For attorneys, the effect that case information has on a jury is critical to success, and the method of presentation is vital. Studies have proven that only 10 percent of communication is the words that are spoken; 35 percent of communication is inflection and tone; and 55 percent is body language. Why would an attorney try to win a trial using just 10 percent of the available communication tools? For professionals who want to take maximum advantage of this fact in the courtroom, trial presentation gives them all the tools to do so. Trial presentation is an amalgam of court reporting, computerized documentation, videography, and digital imaging.

Court reporting firms wishing to provide this special service to their clients should employ a technologically advanced team of specialists skilled in trial presentation techniques. These professionals must be well versed in interactive media technology for both pretrial preparation and in-court presentation. This versatility is crucial, because trial preparation requires an entirely new level of practical flexibility.

Trial presentation technicians stay with an attorney all the way through the trial process. This means they provide technical support from pretrial preparation through courtroom delivery. Before and during a trial, they provide a variety of services, including meeting with attorneys and expert witnesses, annotating exhibits in conjunction with content, producing daily multimedia presentations as a case evolves, and providing immediate access to information in the courtroom.

With the counsel lectern acting as a command center, an attorney has instant access to interactive techniques that capture a jury's attention, thereby emphasizing selected information with quick sound bites, video, graphics, and scanned documents.

There are many reasons for choosing trial presentation as a method of delivery:

  • The trial presentation specialist codes all documents with basic information, such as date, author, subject, and key words, which gives lawyers instant access to all exhibits.

  • This method allows an attorney to plan the strategy for a case and elements into one place.

  • This interactive process uses all aspects of communication to capture and involve a jury.

With trial presentation technology, all information related to a case is available quickly and easily via computer. Thus, lawyers can mix and match a variety of elements, including video, audio, animation, graphics, tables, charts and graphs, scanned documents, and exhibits. Splitscreen synchronized video can incorporate highlighted lines on a transcript so the jurors can focus on the moving text as they listen to the witness speak. Chronologies combine graphics, video clips, and dates to capture a jury's attention. Instant access and highlighting of a specific line of text or document signature are indispensable in pinpointing inconsistencies in testimony.

Courtroom presentation is a complex art; it requires an attorney to be a storyteller, skillfully weaving all the small details of a case into a tapestry that demonstrates "the big picture." Although establishing the pattern of a trial depends on style and rhetoric, winning an argument requires timing and quick access to pertinent information. In an arena in which both the content and the context of a case are critical, pretrial strategy is also vital.

Pretrial strategy is nothing new, but the knowledge of when, where, and how to use this type of technology effectively is. With the aid of a skilled trial presentation technician, an attorney can evaluate the most productive uses of the available computer-generated enhancement techniques and can apply them before the trial. Using this increased flexibility, a lawyer can construct an effective balance between media choice and personal style. Because all case-related documents and information are immediately available for review, an attorney can plan a case using the combination of media elements best suited to emphasize crucial contentions. This approach can be invaluable to a legal professional in establishing and emphasizing a client's position before a jury.

Presentation is the direct result of preparation. Here the speed and flexibility of trial presentation technology can be invaluable. In the courtroom, the best-laid legal strategy, to paraphrase Robert Burns, often goes astray. Presentation is all in the timing, and lawyers are geared to expect the unexpected. When the opposition presents information in an unanticipated manner, an attorney must be able to recover and react quickly, retrieving information and incorporating it for rebuttal. Although there are numerous applications for trial presentation technology, one very effective use is in cases of perjury. The ability to access, highlight, and project previous inconsistent testimony can have a dramatic effect on a jury.

In the courtroom, the most powerful resource a lawyer employs is time; time to plan strategy and to access information. Time lost searching for supporting evidence can have serious consequences for the outcome of a case. The assistance provided by a skilled trial presentation technician — from deposition to courtroom presentation — eliminates this problem by implementing instant access to all depositions, documents, and related exhibits. The issue is no longer where to locate information, but how to use that information most effectively.

By Marsha Naegeli