In this era of fewer trials, if you still find yourself in front of a jury now and then, you may have noticed a few upgrades to some of our courtrooms. You’ll find equipment installed and available in many Federal courtrooms, and some Superior courtrooms as well. It’s a good idea to check into this well in advance if you are going to trial, in order to determine what (if anything) is available, and what you’ll need to bring in order to make it work for you. You should also test the actual system. There is no good excuse for not being able to present your Opening Statement due to equipment issues.
Most courtroom presentation installations will accept a VGA connection and an audio cable that fits into a headphone jack. Some of the newest systems have HDMI connections. These feature full HDMI capability, but usually also include the older VGA option. In either case, you should test your laptop and should know how to make it connect to various audio and video ports. Although HDMI also carries the audio signal, most laptops can be configured to send it via the headphone port if desired, even when using the HDMI for video. In a recent setup, I needed to add a speaker set, since the installed courtroom audio system was not loud enough.
In most cases, you won’t need to bring much with you, and in some cases, you may not be permitted to supplement the court’s setup. One large screen and a projector are still the most effective method of getting everyone to look in the same place at the same time, and you can also use a laser pointer if desired. That stated, some courts don’t have a projector and screen, and some will not allow you to bring one in.
In my experience, the Courts generally have a technical person available to offer training and limited assistance on their system. It’s not their responsibility to know how your laptop or iPad works however, so you’ll need to know how to configure your own computer. If you’re planning on running an iPad via Wi-Fi, you’ll need to provide everything required to make that happen.
Many courtrooms have little or no equipment, so you’ll have to bring and install everything. This is generally shared with opposing counsel, along with associated costs. A couple of earlier articles on this blog include details for typical courtrooms, and for larger courtrooms.
Of course, if you have better things to occupy your time, a Trial Presentation expert can take care of all of this for you. Since they are in trial more than most attorneys, they can help ensure that you have the best available option set up and ready to go, and can assist during trial.