In today’s courtroom, litigators’ paramount concern is keeping the jury’s focus on the facts and evidence introduced in a case. Static photos, flipcharts, chalkboards, foam core boards, and separate pages of documents will certainly help convey your points, but a modern jury expects and responds better to a more visual and dramatic experience. By riding the wave of multimedia presentation technology that is changing litigation in America, and by learning how it can apply to your practice, you will more effectively present your case in ADR, hearing, settlement conference or at trial.
According to the Logical Memory Section of the Wechsler Memory Scale, people immediately forget as much as two thirds of what they hear. As it pertains to information presented to professionals across a multitude of industries, the Weiss-McGrath Report concluded that memory retention increased 100% after a visual rather than an oral presentation.
Think about the impact of multimedia on a jury. Over 52% of our nation’s jury pool is made up of individuals from Generation X (born between the mid-60’s and 1980) and Generation Y (born between 1981 and the late 90’s). These teens to mid-40 year olds get their information primarily from the Internet, radio and television. They perceive the world through handheld computing products, smart phones, and personal video, audio and gaming devices. They are more likely to zone out during a rambling presentation – no matter how eloquent – than they are during a succinct statement punctuated by electronic visuals. These individuals are accustomed to receiving information visually or in 10-to-30 second sound bites. Combine that with more and more baby boomers adopting this technology in their everyday lives, and you have a huge, wellinformed jury pool that is new media and gadget savvy. They expect a significantly different courtroom experience, a trend that requires litigators to rethink their old tried-and- true courtroom tactics.
As a result, multimedia use in today’s courtroom is reshaping how trials are conducted in the U.S. Multimedia usage during the litigation process has a scientific foundation. Several studies confirm we learn visually. According to the Logical Memory Section of the Wechsler Memory Scale, people immediately forget as much as two thirds of what they hear. As it pertains to information presented to professionals across a multitude of industries, the Weiss-McGrath Report concluded that memory retention increased 100% after a visual rather than an oral presentation.
Even more astounding, when visual and oral presentations were combined, memory retention increased a phenomenal 650% over an oral presentation alone. That certainly looks like scientific proof of the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.” And if we upgrade that to a new media environment, a multimedia presentation could be worth a million words. Imagine the positive impact that might have on a jury.
Jurors learn and process information during the course of a trial differently and it generally falls into one of the following learning patterns:
- Seeing the data pictorially, graphically or via motion pictures
- Hearing the data in person or via audio recording
- Reading the data
- A combination of the above
The key point is that today’s juror has the capacity to process information via several senses and methods. Savvy attorneys are realizing that they no longer litigate in Perry Mason’s courtroom. In order to connect with each juror, they recognize a need to appeal to the diverse range of perceptions and learning processes through multimedia presentations.
With hundreds of multimedia-wired courtrooms around the country, attorneys are engaging trial technology consultants to help them manage the technology and tell a better, more effective story. The science and technology of telling that story are becoming just as important as the art of telling it.
The following are some examples of modern multimedia storytelling techniques:
- Simplifying complex engineering, medical or mathematical evidence with powerful, easy-to-understand 3D visual computer models
- Transporting the jury back in time with vivid computer animated recreations of an accident or crime scene to help them experience the sights and sounds of the event
- Presenting a “day in a life” through a series of well-orchestrated photographic images and digitized video
- Displaying a colorful graphic rendering of objects, processes and diagrams
- Projecting both static and animated timelines in attention-grabbing color
- Showing computer-projected documents and photographs with the ability to draw the jury’s attention to something specific by enlarging key sections or making real-time, on-screen annotations
- Playing a digitized surveillance video that morphs into a 3D computer animation
- Viewing and listening to a video or audio deposition synchronized to the scrolling transcript
- Watching a Video Settlement Documentary on a DVD produced for a mediation or settlement conference that combines many of the above-mentioned media types into a 10-to-15-minute television “documentary” format
Employing such presentations during ADR, settlement conference or trial gives an attorney storytelling powers like never before. Pairing the trial technology consultant’s skill, creativity and talents with the attorney’s knowledge of the law and litigation can make the difference between winning and losing.
It boils down to this very important fact: jurors and judges base their decisions largely on who tells the best and most believable story. Creating and articulating the clearest account of the facts by appealing to the human senses is critical to inspiring the jury to reach a decision in your favor. Attorneys who utilize multimedia tools achieve greater results and ultimately prevail in more cases.
Steven Thompson and Andrew Lloyd are the co-founders of Litigation Media Group, LLC, a legal visual presentation and trial technology consultancy firm, located in Walnut Creek and San Jose. For additional information, please call 408-884-4900 or visit their website at www.litigationmedia.com.
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