Being present as an audio video forensic expert in trial is exciting. Attorneys, the judge, and members of the jury are concentrating and intense — and often the future trajectory of someone’s life is at stake.
In these situations, court setup can help make or break a case.
While a trial progresses, attorneys interview numerous experts and witnesses and present to the jury a guided tour of the evidence.
We’ve seen in court a couple of very bad examples of an attorney — on the opposing side of course — being unpracticed with audio or video technology needed to play his evidence. We’ve seen an attorney trying to argue a case in front of a jury while fumbling with a media player to “cue up” the audio evidence he is describing. This was awkward for everyone in the room and fairly or unfairly conveyed to the jury an attorney unprepared to bring his case to trial — this reflected badly on the attorney — and his case.
Generally, these audio and video technology mishaps can be avoided by preparing for the presentation of audio video evidence in court.
1) Practice with your evidence — using the exact version and the exact digital file of the evidence and the exact computer playback system, the exact video projection equipment, and the exact sound amplification speakers. To best ensure that the attorney will have a smooth arguement, nothing in your technology rehearsal should be different from the situation as it will be in court.
2) Create a court-ready custom DVD — Ask your forensic video expert to create a fool proof DVD with custom chapters that play evidence you will present in court. This will ensure a smooth presentation. Be careful though — include enough varied options in the DVD to cover your bases if you decide to slightly adjust your presentation.
3) Have a backup plan — either backup equipment or alternate trial strategy — so the attorney can proceed in his presentation to the jury without appearing unprepared. Once there is a break in the trial the lawyer can solve the tech problem.
4) Never trust the opposing side to provide the technology you need. In one case we were told by the opposing attorney, “Don’t worry, we’ll setup the screen and projection system for the case and you can use ours.” We described the offer to our client, but based on past experiences we insisted that we should have our own system ready — just in case. On the morning of what was to be the opening of the trial, we arrived early to test their system, and found that they did not setup anything! But since we were prepared and the equipment was waiting downstairs in a car, we just brought it in and set it up. The opposing side ended up using our system!