As technology becomes more prevalent in the courtroom it is essential for attorneys to have a clear understanding of the equipment used to present their case. Technology such as document cameras, annotation monitors, and trial presentation software are all common tools that help keep the pace of the trial moving in a timely manner, while also making the presentation of the case more impactful.
As a Technology Administrator for the United States District Court I have witnessed many proceedings in which counsel is not familiar with the presentation equipment integrated into the courtroom and as a result stumble over the technology, often times calling on the clerk on duty to assist with their presentation. Not only can this be a frustration to the Judge, this can also leave a less than positive impression on the Jury.
It is common that before appearing in court the judge or someone from his or her staff will offer insight or direction with regards to how that particular judge likes to operate during a proceeding. Many times the judge will ask if there is a need to use the presentation system in the courtroom and if the answer is yes; they will direct them to set up an appointment prior to the proceedings to visit the courtroom, test their presentations (DVD, Digital Clips from a laptop, audio recordings, etc), as well as get a feel for the operation of the equipment. Do pictures have too much glare when presented from the document camera? Is there enough backlight for an X-Ray to be viewed? Is the jury able to read an entire document projected on the viewing screens? These are all questions that should be answered before making your appearance in court. Acclimating yourself with the capabilities of the courtroom will be beneficial in many ways. It is in counsel’s best interest to connect their laptop and make sure that presentation software looks good on the screens. I like to encourage attorneys to take the time to get a tour of the room and the technology offered. Ask the clerk on duty to show you ahead of time where to connect laptops, external audio devices, as well as power outlets for the equipment.
Visit the court website to see if the judge has a page that offers information as to what their expectations are with regards to the use of technology while in their courtroom. Often useful information can be found that will lead to a greater understanding of the technology in the courtroom. Take the time to visit with clerks or other members of the judge’s staff who know the courtroom well before going into trial. They can offer insight that can prove to be invaluable later. If more advanced technological situations develop, it might be necessary to contact the Courtroom Technology Administrator or someone from the I.T. department who can offer a more in-depth tutorial of the equipment. Maryland injury lawyer are known to be very helpful with their clients when it comes to courtroom technology tutorial.
Jurors today expect technology to be a large part of their courtroom experience. It can only benefit you as an attorney to have an understanding of the tools available for trial. Even if you are only using tangible paper documents, a document camera will most likely be involved and there is nothing worse than looking confused or needing to ask for help when all eyes are on you. Let the Jurors notice your exhibits, not you struggling with technology. The Judge will appreciate your efforts, as well as the Clerk on Duty, and all those present in the Courtroom.