Is it possible to use too much courtroom tech? Undoubtedly, yes. When your trial technology is slowing down the trial or confusing the jury, you're trying to do too much. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- The primary purpose of trial technology should be to help the jury learn and remember your key points. It should never confuse the jury or get in the way of understanding.
- Not every point is a key point. You don't need a timeline of unimportant events or an animation of something that doesn't matter.
- You must be comfortable with your trial technology. If you're not comfortable, the jury won't be comfortable. If you're not working the machines yourself, which you're probably not, come up with a simple shorthand method of communicating exactly what you want to your technology staff. And remember to say please.
- It's easy to serve up too much information. Anything you project on a screen should complement what you are saying, not compete with it.
- Remember that few jurors can do two things at once. Don't expect them to read a projected document and listen to your questions about it at the same time. If you're going to educate with technology, give the jury a chance to learn.
- When you move onto your next point, what's happening on the screen should reflect that. Don't continue to display an exhibit after you've moved on. Dim the screen immediately.
- In opening and closing, you can move beyond the reading-while-listening problem by using photos, animations, or graphics that illustrate your points, a style popularized by Mark Lanier.
- If it helps the jury to learn, comprehend, or remember, don't be afraid to entertain a little. Even though you're a lawyer, you're not required to be boring.
Finally, jurors are very sensitive to how quickly a trial is moving along. Whenever your trial technology is slowing things down, your trial technology is a mistake. Make sure your technology staff is sensitive to this important point.