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December 12, 2018 Practice Points

Six Tips for Effectively Using Technology in the Courtroom

By Tiffany deGruy

As the world becomes ever more dependent on technology, jurors, judges, and witnesses increasingly expect lawyers to proficiently use it. Mastering the use of technology in the courtroom is not only possible but also extremely wise. 

1. Choose Your Software Wisely

First thing’s first. It is imperative to choose the correct presentation software. Programs such as Trial Director allow you to easily show a document to a witness, draw the witness’s attention to important parts of the document, and display demonstratives. Discuss your options with your staff and industry experts. 

2. Know Your Audience

Some judges have strict rules about using technology in the courtroom and may even limit or disallow it. Others require a motion to be filed before using it. Call the judge’s chambers and discuss what you will be permitted to use and what you need to bring with you (monitors, a screen, cords, etc.). Also consider who the trier of fact is. Many jurors expect the use of technology and can become frustrated by too many paper exhibits.

3. Timing is Everything

It is essential to know when to use technology in the courtroom. Think beyond jury trials. Will your argument in a hearing be strengthened by the use of visuals? Are there documents that need to be shown in a way to flag key information? 

4. Surround Yourself with a Team that Makes You Look Good

As is true in every courtroom interaction, your team can make or break you. Make sure you surround yourself with people who are exceedingly good at their jobs and able to quickly adapt while maintaining a calm demeanor. Bring with you an experienced paralegal who knows how to use the presentation software and who can handle the logistics while you focus on the content.

5. Preparation is Key

Equally important as choosing the correct software is mastering the use of this technology before you have a judge and 12 jurors watching your every move. Have your team set up the software in your office and practice pulling up the documents. Ask for time to set up the equipment before court starts so there is plenty of time to fix any issues that may arise.

6. Always Have a Backup Plan

Of course, as good as your team may be, sometimes technology fails. Be sure you have a backup plan. Have hard copies of exhibits, a printer in the courtroom, extra cords, a spare Wi-Fi device in case the internet in the courtroom goes down, etc.

Tiffany deGruy is a partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Birmingham, Alabama.

Copyright © 2018, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).