Home Ch: 8 - Using Multimedia in Legal Proceedings Presenting Your Multimedia Case
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Using Multimedia in Legal Proceedings

Presenting Your Multimedia Case

Introduction

There were some very excellent observations (in one of the first paperless trials) about using computers in the courtroom from the participants in the Ayers. et al v. Sutliffe, et al, No. C-1-90-650, Southern District of Ohio case. In FROM THE BENCH, A Paperless Trial 1995, the late Carl B. Rubin, United States District Judge, Southern District of Ohio, wrote:

“I have seen the Courtroom of the Future. I have even had the good fortune to use it. When it becomes the Courtroom of the Present, everyone will benefit. It will cost the litigants less. It will permit clearer presentation of evidence, and it will be far easier for the presiding judge to administer. Such a courtroom will substitute computer monitors for the customary avalanche of paper.”

J. Michael Rediker, attorney for the plaintiffs in this case stated:

“Witness examinations moved quickly, and the computers allowed the rapid questioning on numerous documents. We were also able to dispense with the expensive and time-consuming process of putting together a dozen multi-volume sets of hard copies of the trial exhibits.”

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“Our sense was that the jurors much preferred the computers to the hard copy, a notion that was confirmed during the defense portion of the case. The defendants declined to use the computers. They insisted on the traditional method of presenting blow-ups and passing documents to the jurors. The result was vacant stares and grimaces. If the outcome of the case is any indication, the jury verdict was a strong endorsement of the computers - the jury returned a plaintiff verdict with regard to every defendant.”

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“Our experience with computers in the courtroom has several important lessons for trial lawyers. Computers can be extremely effective tools in presenting a complex case to a jury -- any jury. The jurors in our case represented a true community cross-section; only two of the nine had college degrees. Although not unusually sophisticated, they did accept -- and were not intimidated by -- the computers. The technology is accessible and is becoming more adaptable every day; concerns about operating failures should not inhibit its use. We did encounter occasional glitches, but they were addressed promptly and without any material impact on the case. Resistance to the use of computers may place trial lawyers at an extreme disadvantage if they find themselves confronted with an opponent who is computer literate.”

 

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