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Presenting Electronic Evidence at Trial

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, March 28, 2017

TECHNOLOGY TIP from the KBA Law Practice Management Attorney:

Everything is going digital these days—even our evidence. But many of us are reluctant to take our evidence in this direction because there are so many unknowns and potential complications: What if the wi-fi in the courthouse crashes like it does every other day? Do I need special software for presenting this evidence? Should I upgrade my laptop before the trial? Here are a few technology tips for presenting electronic evidence in trial:

  1. Do Not Rely on the Courthouse Wireless Network. For your trial, you want to have your own initial wireless network that is separate from the courthouse network. Also, have a non-wireless option just in case your wireless options start to go down. Test and test and test and re-test. You will be glad you did.
  2. Use the Exhibit Number in the File Name. Regardless of what type of document you are using, having your documents identified by exhibit number reminds you to make the appropriate record about which exhibit you are showing. The trial software you are using may influence how you name files, but the exhibit number needs to be there. Otherwise, it is too easy to say “this photo” or “the contract,” especially if the exhibits are pre-admitted.
  3. Use good equipment. If you have an IT department, don’t let them hand off the slowest and oldest computer to you before trial. If you are solo, consider upgrading your equipment before the trial. If you do, consider upgrading trial software and learning the idiosyncrasies of the system well before the trial begins so you are comfortable with the system and software at the start of the proceedings.
  4. Learn the software. Especially if you are planning to do your own presentation, but even if you are not. Understanding what the trial presentation software can do for your case is the least you can do for your client. Split screens, effective zooming and highlighting, and some forethought can turn a ho-hum exhibit into a dynamic and powerful one.
  5. Check system compatibility ahead of time.Many of our state courtrooms are still not wired at all. Some are downright ancient. Be sure you do not need a three-prong converter to plug into the court’s two-prong outlets. They still exist! In older wired courtrooms, many systems are still VGA while newer systems (and computers) are HDMI. You need to have compatible plugs and computers. Make sure your computer’s resolution, and that of the projector or monitors you plan to use, are compatible. These stumbling blocks (and others) are easily overcome, but how many trips to Best Buy do you have time to make as you prepare for voir dire?

Like this Tech Tip? Look for another Tech Tip or Practice Pointer from the Law Practice Management Attorney in next week’s Weekly. What topics would you like for me to cover in the Tech Tips and Practice Pointers? Let me know by emailing me at srustmartin@ksbar.org.

Today’s Tech Tip was quoted and adapted from the ALPS 411 Blog titled “A Blog for the Legal Community, Businesses, and Entrepreneurs in an article titled Presenting Electronically in Trial written by Susan Bonar Mayer. Susan is President and CEO of Litigation Abstract, Inc., headquartered in Missoula, Montana, with a sales and service office in Seattle, Washington.

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Tags:  exhibits  software  trial evidence  WiFi 

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