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Using Multimedia in Legal Proceedings

Visual Digital Aids

Introduction - Multimedia

The infamous “Titanic” closing argument multimedia video depicts the outer edge of how multimedia is used in trial. This video was actually used in the plaintiff’s closing argument in an Arizona case. The video paralleled the warnings the Titanic received and ignored about the iceberg with the warnings the defendants allegedly received and ignored about the financial condition of one of their clients. The video, which runs for approximately 18 minutes, uses all available multimedia - text, sound, graphics and video - in a persuasive presentation to the jury. It was interesting to note that the defendants were not permitted to see the video before it was presented to the jury, since this was part of the plaintiff’s closing argument.

Cutting edge multimedia trials are becoming commonplace. With the overwhelming evidence establishing that people are influenced dramatically by the use of multimedia, we will continue to see significant increases in its use by legal professionals in a variety of legal forums. As one attorney who participated in a paperless multimedia trial stated, “In my opinion, it is legal malpractice not to use an in-court presentation system if the opposing side is using one!”

Why did the late Honorable Carl Rubin, federal judge for the Southern District of Ohio, The Honorable Roger Strand, and the late Honorable Richard Bilby, federal judges for the District of Arizona, encourage the use of computers in their courtrooms? They all think that the use of computers enhances the jury’s understanding of the case, results in significant timesavings, and prevents the paper warehouse effect in their courtroom. What do Brian O’Neil, lead plaintiff’s attorney in the Exxon Valdez case, Michael Manning, lead plaintiff’s attorney in the Keating trials, and Jim Wagner, lead counsel in the Washington Public Power case, all have in common? They all felt they had a definite competitive edge over their adversaries by presenting their documents, video depositions and other digitized case evidence during trial in a multimedia format.


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