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What Evidence Works

NCJ Number
Trial Volume: 35 Issue: 13 Dated: December 1999 Pages: 66-71
Catherine D. Perry
Date Published
December 1999
5 pages
Trial lawyers should use several techniques to make their evidence more persuasive and should keep in mind that cases that are obviously convincing usually settle before trial and thus that most cases that go to trial are difficult cases with strengths and weaknesses on both sides.
Judges and juries need clear explanations. Most people are visual learners, but a trial is still usually a word picture and attorneys need to translate their words into something that the jury can understand. Effective uses of charts, graphs, and other visual aids can add interest to even the most routine case. Chronologies or time lines can put the attorney's version of the facts in perspective for jurors. Visually connecting themes and consistent motifs can also be persuasive. Providing instant photos of witnesses can help jurors remember their impressions of individual witnesses. Physical evidence is often persuasive; attorneys should always show it, even if its existence is not in dispute. A video presenter can publish exhibits to the jurors simply and easier. Video monitors are more effective than the traditional juror notebooks. Documents can be scanned into a computer and manipulated to show the jury. Deposition testimony is usually necessary and can also be effective, although no one likes deposition at trial. The attorney can read the deposition to the jury, show a videotaped deposition, or play a deposition from the computer. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Computer animations are used most often in patent cases. The core of any of these evidentiary systems is the video presenter and monitors set up for viewing the evidence. Advanced technology and presentation techniques will not strengthen a case, but these techniques can help attorneys, judges, and juries do their jobs better.


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