March 01, 2017 Articles

Top 5 Tips for a Powerful Demonstrative in Medical Drug and Device Trials

Don’t just say it. Show it.

By Tarifa B. Laddon and Amanda Semaan

Visual demonstrative evidence, while having no probative value unless used in conjunction with “real” or “substantive” evidence, can serve as a powerful tool in the courtroom. Effective demonstratives grab and hold the jury’s attention and enhance not only their comprehension but their retention of information. Researchers have found that juries remember 75–85 percent of what they see and only 15 percent of what they hear. And when the method of presentation involves both telling and showing—as opposed to telling alone—jurors remember more of the information presented and retain it for longer periods of time.

The success of medical drug and device trials, in particular, depends heavily on extensive expert testimony in a wide range of disciplines from toxicology to pharmacology to biomedical engineering. Without engaging jurors and helping them to make sense of the complex issues and science that are often involved in these cases, the best-prepared advocate risks losing his or her client’s case. Capturing the jury’s attention in these types of cases is, therefore, of the utmost importance. This is especially so in an age where the everyday juror is inundated with social media and has an average attention span of eight seconds, according to a recent study. Microsoft Canada, Attention Spans (Spring 2015) (PDF). In the study, participants who led more digital lifestyles struggled to focus in environments where prolonged attention is needed, such as a courtroom. Advocates must address the increasing problem of juror retention through creative and innovative ways to maximize their chances of persuading a jury and achieving their clients’ objectives. Medical drug and device trial attorneys can apply the following tips to ensure their demonstratives are as impactful as possible.

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