July 01, 2013

iWitness: How to Conduct a Paperless Trial

How you manage documents affects your ability to go to trial without paper.

David L. Masters

Download a printable PDF of this article (membership required).

To talk about the paperless trial, we have to start at the beginning of your involvement in the litigation. How you manage documents will affect your ability to go to trial without paper.

Even in a “paperless” trial, there may be some paper in the courtroom. Depending on the technology available, the nature of the case, and other factors, you may want a physical notebook of exhibits for the witness to work from. Which exhibits go into the notebook depends on the type of evidence being offered and on whether the admission into evidence will be contested or has been agreed to. More on this later. The paperless trial described in this article does not involve the use of special software such as Sanction or Trial Director. Those are great programs but not ones that I have used on a regular basis. What I describe here relies on using Adobe Acrobat from start to finish.

The paperless trial described in this article comes from my experience as a small-town, small-firm, general practitioner in western Colorado. The courtrooms where I practice are not equipped with digital projectors and reflective screens, much less flat-panel displays for counsel, jurors, witnesses, and the judge. Colorado has used electronic court filings for long enough that it has become mandatory in civil cases statewide. Add to that a requirement that all exhibits to be offered at trial must be provided to the court in digital form. If you start the case by filing the complaint electronically, then send and receive disclosures and discovery the same way, it’s easier to try the case with a minimum amount of paper. 

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now