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.

All materials © Ted Brooks, unless otherwise indicated.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Sanction 3 Trial Presentation Software Review - Sneak Preview

I joined in on the first web demo of Sanction 3, presented by Sanction Account Executive and Software Trainer, Devin Cegalis. I was certainly impressed, and if you’re a Sanction II user, although I’m not sure of the pricing yet, the upgrade will be offered at a discount, versus purchasing without owning the prior version. Verdical users will receive Sanction 3 at no charge, according to Cegalis. While I haven’t personally used Verdical, I am told that many of the best features of both have been combined in Sanction 3, and with many new improvements added. For those like me, who have only used Sanction II (and not Verdical), there’s just no comparison between versions 2 and 3. If you’re in a hurry to be one of the first to have it, the scheduled release date is March 29, 2011, and there are current upgrade discounts available. They are also offering web demos, if you’d like to take the “live” tour. Note: The screen-grabs I've included in this article were captured from the web demo, and are used with permission by Sanction Solutions.

The interface looks fresh, and fits nicely in a Windows 7 environment. It has been developed to take advantage of all that current technology has to offer, and is no longer running on an Access database – it is instead now using a new proprietary file-based database. When you first open Sanction 3, you’ll find options to create a new case and open an existing database.

Sanction II database files will import into Sanction 3, but they will not be backwards-compatible. Keep that in mind, if you’re sharing your database with Sanction II users.

Image © 2011 Sanction Solutions

With the increasingly common use of PDF files in law firms, it is a nice improvement to have Sanction 3 handling these files, without the use of an extra plug-in, as in Sanction II. In the demo, PDF’s were annotated, rotated and displayed without any problems. If it is a multi-page document, you also have an option to display the page thumbnails (in the database and presentation view), in a similar manner as with Adobe Acrobat.

Another nice feature about Sanction 3 is the use of context-sensitive “Ribbon” menus, as in the Microsoft Office 2010 Suite. So, if you’re working with the database, you’ll have a set of icons that will help you quickly access items such as OCR, transcripts, and file import options.

Image © 2011 Sanction Solutions

If you’re annotating exhibits, you’ll have all of the graphics tools displayed, and if you’re viewing transcripts, all of the depo video clip-editing tools are available. A database grid-view is also available. Sidebar menus are collapsible, and drop-down menus display only when needed.
Image © 2011 Sanction Solutions

There is also a carousel feature, which allows you to add several items, and then rotate through them in order.

Image © 2011 Sanction Solutions

Clip editing options now include colored issue codes, which may be assigned to differentiate designations, such as for Plaintiff and Defendant. Another nice feature in Sanction is the ability to “redact” text from a clip designation, which removes it from a clip. Accuracy will still be dependent upon sync quality of the video to the transcript.

Image © 2011 Sanction Solutions

The folks at Sanction are very proud of their new “zone-free” presentation module. I received a screen-shot of this feature several weeks ago. You may run it on single or dual-screen mode, and there are no fixed areas in which exhibits or videos are confined. So, you may put several items on the screen, moving and resizing individual “windows” as desired. You can even play more than one video simultaneously. The example scenario shared was when a witness was testifying about something, and you wanted to display an animation video at the same time. You can also show the status bar on the bottom if desired, allowing you to quickly bring the next item into focus.

Image © 2011 Sanction Solutions

If you’re comfortable with the Office 2010 interface style, Sanction 3 should feel very familiar, and simple to learn. This is one area Sanction has kept in focus for many years. If you like Sanction II, you’ll love Sanction 3.

Ted Brooks, President
Litigation-Tech LLC
"Enhancing the Art of Communication"
213-798-6608 Los Angeles
415-291-9900 San Francisco


  1. Thanks for the quick glance into Sanction3.

  2. Sanction 3 does not have the functionality of Sanction 2.9. We purchased 3.0 and returned it. We are still using 2.9.

  3. Ted - Are you using Sanction 3.0 successfully in trial -- or are you using something else? I'm a few months out from a big trial and just wanted to get an idea of what you have been most comfortable with lately ... JP/Oklahoma

  4. I'm using the current version of TrialDirector. I did have a recent case where the firm was using Sanction, so I used it then as well, but they (and therefore I) were on 2.9, not 3.0.

    I haven't really had the need to upgrade to 3.0 yet.

  5. Sanction 3 does not have the ability to export video clips to wmv files like Sanction 2.9 and it does not allow you to bulk re-name and re-number document pages like 2.9. Also, the way they have you set up cases by choosing a new "connection" is clunky and confusing. Yes, the presentation view is a step up from 2.9, but that's the only thing better. We're switching to Trial Director.


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