A recent article by Jason Barnes which appears on the ASTC site (Anthropomorphism in Technical Presentations) offers some interesting insight as to the thinking processes of non-technical jurors involved in a technology or other complex case. It is easy to forget that jurors are not all familiar with what may be even a simple part of an extremely complex topic. I've witnessed this in court, as an attorney makes (or fails to make) reference to something in the case, assuming that since it is so basic, everyone must understand, and then quickly moving along to the weightier points at issue. Don't even get me started on acronyms... Although a couple jurors may be familiar with the topic, it must never be assumed. Further, it should never be left on the shoulders of the juror(s) who probably do understand to explain it to the rest during deliberations. This could be suicide. Even though they may indeed "get it," they might also be convinced that opposing counsel has presented the better evidence, thus using their expertise to help convince the others.
That stated, it is often better to present the material in more than one manner, allowing each individual to understand the matter on their own terms, and based on their own education, life experiences and preferred methods of learning new material. This may mean reviewing documents for some, an animation or perhaps some demonstrative graphic exhibits for others. I would never recommend attempting to educate a jury on a technical subject without the use of some form of visual support.
Good article, worth reading!
COURT TECHNOLOGY AND TRIAL PRESENTATION
The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.
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