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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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Did Cop fire at passing car in self-defense?

When I reviewed "Law On Display," by Neal Feigenson and Christina Spiesel for comment in The Jury Expert, I'm not sure if I fell asleep in class - but I never actually saw the video and animation. Maybe there weren't links to the videos in my copy, or maybe I just missed them. The files are in the online version via YouTube links. After reviewing the article again (which is an excerpt from what I expect to be a great book by the same title), I stand firm in my opinion that defense counsel got away with something they shouldn't have. In fact, after viewing the video and animation, I must say I am even more convinced than before, having originally based my opinion solely on the well-written description in the article. That stated, rebutting the animation could have been as simple as with the series of slides I have prepared. If budget were an issue, as mentioned by Jason Barnes and Brian Patterson, that should not have prevented working with video grabs of the video and animation, showing that the two are not the same, or even similar. This only took me a couple of hours. Silly, when I realize how busy I am with billable work...

To better understand this sequence, I would encourage you to first read the article and comments by Barnes, Patterson and me.

This is the animated depiction of the car aiming at Officer Murtha, allegedly causing him to act in self-defense.

In video stills, it can be helpful to place circles around key objects, due to lack of clarity.

Murtha is not running from the approaching car - he is running toward it.

If Murtha is in danger, why is he still running toward the car, which is speeding off?

Murtha continues to approach the car, weapon drawn.

Murtha fires at the suspect, as he stands beside the car.

As noted in my comments on the article, the meanest insult there is to an animation based on fiction, rather than fact (evidence) is to refer to it as a "cartoon."

Ted Brooks, President
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  1. This is a very impressive visual analysis of a piece of evidence -- clear, immediately accessible, and undeniable. Thank you for laying out visually(!) how a counter argument can be put together with simple and ubiquitous technologies. You demonstrate well why visual literacy is important in the legal system if pictures are going to be used and that this should be part of the toolkit of any lawyer.

  2. Update:

    I've been contacted by Ms. Spiesel regarding a televised interview about their book, Law on Display. They will include the graphics shown above, which were created in response to the Jury Expert article, found at I will also be reviewing their book soon - looking forward to that. Here is the link to their web site:

    If the article is representative of the rest of the book, it will be a great read.


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