The courtroom of today, in many cases, is still the courtroom of yesterday. As courtroom presentation consultants who have seen a vast number of courtrooms in Ohio and around the country, it amazes us that the vast majority of courtrooms don’t have ANY technological capabilities. Even though many attorney and law firms are catching up, many county courtrooms are NOT. We've noticed that the unequipped courtroom often drives some attorneys to shy away from using trial technology. We feel strongly that using technology to enhance your trial presentation should become the norm, not the exception. Let’s consider a case in Tuscarawas County, Ohio from which I recently returned.
The case was scheduled for 2 months. There were over 3,000 exhibits, 70 deposition videos, and millions of dollars at stake. By all accounts, it was essential that we use trial presentation technology for this case. However, the space we were assigned presented unique challenges. In this particular courtroom (a gorgeous Victorian designed courtroom built in 1882) there was no equipment for presentation whatsoever, access to only 3 electrical outlets, and not a lot of available space. Our goal was to employ technology to make evidence quickly accessible and easy to present to the jury. In addition to the electronic database of exhibits we compiled, we connected two monitors next to the jury box for viewing, as well as a projector, and an 8-foot screen across the room from jury box. At my table, we had a large speaker and amp, scanner, and printer. Our equipment was able to switch between the trial presenters for both the prosecution and defense at a flip of the switch. The trial went off without a hitch. The jury easily followed along and the judge appreciated the ease of the technology.
This was one more trial where we found trial technology to have a huge impact. No matter the size, a trial as large as this one, or a much smaller case (100 exhibits or less, 3-4 deposition videos, etc.) we consistently find the advantages to be immeasurable. Trial technology really speeds up the trial, especially when you are working in a confined space. Not having to worry about running around finding and handing large notebooks to a witness, parties, or the judge, and shuffling through them to find an exhibit is a huge time saver. Using technology to instantly show a video for impeachment or designation playback instead of shuffling through the paper transcripts keeps everyone focused on the issues at hand.
With all of the technology that is seen in our world today, be it on our cell phones, our computers, or on TV, the world is becoming accustomed to seeing information in a technological way. Now we can present information for a trial in a variety of media (video, audio, documentation) and maintain the accessibility and security levels that we all demand. There doesn’t need to be a phobia of going the technology route anymore, and with the experience we have setting up in courtrooms to serve the needs of any trial, just know that if you want trial technology, it can be used and be very helpful ANYWHERE … even in the most archaic courtroom
Sr. Courtroom Technology Consultant and Graphic Designer
Paul Unger, Esq. and Josh Hoeppner are courtroom technology consultants based in the Midwest. Combined, they have over 15 years of experience working with trials all over the United States. They do presentation development, database preparation, scanning, graphic design, illustrations, training and organize focus groups.