Demonstrative exhibits are an integral part of any trial presentation. They are the tools that help us educate the jury about products, teach them about complex technical issues and understand the evidence. They can illustrate salient points that could be difficult to explain concisely and clearly, and can refute claims of our opponents. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video or reenactment may be worth millions of words. The importance of the effective use of demonstrative aids cannot be overstated.
Demonstrative aids can run the gamut from simple drawings made on chalkboards by witnesses during their testimony to a high tech accident reconstruction video presentation. They may consist of several blowups of significant photographs, or enlargement of pertinent documents. The technology available today permits a wide range of possibilities, including highlighting text in a document and during testimony, enlarging and pulling out important language from a document and marking the document on the screen to direct the jury’s attention to a specific part of an exhibit.
It may be important to demonstrate how a machine works, or how technology is used. It may be necessary to depict the biomechanical possibilities in a given accident. Videos, computer simulations and other technologies can be very effective to bolster your case. Timelines are a favorite demonstrative aid and with modern technology, the timeline can be “created” during witness testimony before the jury’s eyes.
There are many creative and effective ways to create engaging demonstrative aids. The Trial Techniques SLG will take up the topic at the upcoming DRI Products Liability meeting in Las Vegas (April 11-13). If you have any particular questions about this topic that you would like to be considered for further discussion in Las Vegas, please post.