Search

Loading

Join 4,400 Subscribers and Get Notified of New Articles Every Week

Your email:

Free Webinar - Integrating Expert Evidence & Winning Arguments - May 6, 2014. Register now, watch live or later.

a2l iss scientific evidence webinar side

Watch Now: Using PowerPoint Litigation Graphics to Win - Webinar

using powerpoint litigation graphics

Free Litigation Webinars - Watch Now

Nationally Acclaimed - Voted #1 Jury Research Firm and #1 Demonstrative Evidence Firm in the U.S.

voted best demonstrative evidence consultants

A2L best demonstrative trial graphics consultants
best demonstrative evidence litigation graphics consultants

Download the (Free) Storytelling for Litigators E-Book

describe the image

Featured Free Download: The Complex Civil Litigation Trial Guide

a2l consultants complex civil litigation trial guide download

Considering Using a Trial Technician at Your Next Trial? Download this first.

trial technicians trial technology atlanta houston new york boston virginia

Featured Free Download: Using Science to Prevail in Your Next Case or Controversy

using science to win at trial litigation jury

Featured FREE A2L E-Book: Using Litigation Graphics Persuasively

using litigation graphics trial graphics trial presentation consultants

Free Jury Consulting & Trial Consulting Guidebook for Litigators

jury consulting trial consultants guide

Featured E-Book: The Patent Litigator's Guide to Trial Presentation & Trial Preparation

patent litigation ebook 3rd edition

Timelines Appear In Most Trials - Learn how to get the most out of using trial timelines in this ebook

trial timelines graphics consultants litigators

Featured Complimentary eBook - The 100-page Antitrust Litigation Guide

antitrust ebook a2l litigation consultants

Featured Complimentary eBook - Leadership Lessons for Litigators and Litigation Support

leadership lessons litigation law firms litigation support

Featured E-Book: The Environmental Litigator's Guide to Trial Presentation & Prep

environmental litigation trial presentation trial prep ebook a2l

Authors

KenLopez resized 152

Ken Lopez founded A2L Consulting in 1995. The firm has since worked with litigators from all major law firms on more than 10,000 cases with over $2 trillion cumulatively at stake.  The A2L team is comprised of psychologists, jury consultants, trial consultants, litigation consultants, attorneys and information designers who provide jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology.  Ken Lopez can be reached at lopez@A2LC.com.


ryanflax blog litigation consultant 

Ryan H. Flax, Esq., Managing Director, Litigation Consulting, joined A2L Consulting on the heels of practicing Intellectual Property (IP) law as part of the Intellectual Property team at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a national law firm based in Washington, DC.  Over the course of his career, Ryan has obtained jury verdicts totaling well over $1 billion in damages on behalf of his clients and has helped clients navigate the turbulent waters of their competitors’ patents.  Ryan can be reached at flax@a2lc.com.


dr laurie kuslansky jury consultant a2l consulting
Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D, Managing Director, Trial & Jury Consulting, has conducted over 400 mock trials in more than 1,000 litigation engagements over the past 20 years. Dr. Kuslansky's goal is to provide the highest level of personalized client service possible whether one's need involves a mock trial, witness preparation, jury selection or a mock exercise not involving a jury. Dr. Kuslansky can be reached at kuslansky@A2LC.com.

Posts by Category

Follow A2L Consulting

Member Red Well Blog
ABA Blawg 100 2013 7th annual

A2L Featured Letter of Recommendation

Follow Us on Google+

The Litigation Consulting Report

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

5 Demonstrative Evidence Tricks and Cheats to Watch Out For

 


demonstrative evidence consultants liar lying pinnochioby Ken Lopez
Founder & CEO
A2L Consulting 

Charts don't lie, people do.

As demonstrative evidence consultants, we see a lot of charts and graphs that are designed to mislead or that end up misleading the viewer, and ultimately the jury. I don't think it is always intentional on the part of the trial team. Sometimes, a demonstrative evidence consultant is to blame for introducing a misleading tactic. This article will help you spot those misleading charts before they do damage.

Remember that each piece of demonstrative evidence is subject to the balancing test under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, among other evidentiary standards. Under Rule 403, an otherwise relevant demonstrative will be excluded when its probative value is substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice, its cumulative nature or if confusing or misleading.

For example, I believe that a chart using any of these five techniques described below runs the risk of not passing muster under Rule 403; however, objections to demonstrative evidence are relatively rare. Successfully make the objection during trial and you might just call the credibility of your opponent into question.

1)     The Slippery Scale: This is the most common trick I see, and once you know about it, you'll see it everywhere too. By setting your y-axis (the vertical one) to a narrow range not including zero (e.g. below, 94M to 108M), it is easy to make relatively small changes look enormous. For example, the Simply Statistics blog recently highlighted this technique used by Fox News. Here, this trick makes changes in the welfare rolls that are relatively small seem enormous.

demonstrative evidence consultants tricks lie cheat yaxis


2) Compared to what? If you want to show a small change on a percentage basis, all you need to do is vary your x-axis (the horizontal one) so that time is literally on your side. The Obama campaign truncated its timeframe in its spending chart, claiming that in 2010, President Obama presided over the smallest increase in spending in 50 years. While technically true, 2010 was being compared to 2009, the year that the one-time stimulus spending (championed by the Obama/Clinton/Biden Congress) ballooned government spending by 18%. I wrote about this previously.

demonstrative-evidence-cheating-on-charts


3)  The Percentage Increase Trick? How many times have you heard someone talk about a 200% increase and really wonder exactly what they are trying to say? Do they mean it doubled, it quadrupled or something else? If they are using the percentages correctly, a 100% increase is a doubling and a 200% increase in something is a tripling – three times as much as at the outset. However, the trickery comes in where one might say in a chart that the same 200% increase is 300% of the first figure or a threefold change. To help stay accurate and monitor your opponents, use A2L's Percentage Calculator for Lawyers below.


4) Tricking the Eye with 3D Charts: Flat charts with no depth or 3D aspect are harder to trick the viewer with, so always scrutinize your opponent's charts when the third dimension introduced.  For example, have a look at the two pie charts below. Both red areas are the same percentage of the pie, but if you are like most people, when the slice is closer to you, it looks bigger. A similar trick can be used with bar charts.

demonstrative evidence consultants lying charts cheats hall of shame

 

5) Misleading emotional imagery: Putting an image of a homeless person in the background of a chart about increasing homelessness is designed to evoke emotion. It might be admissible since it is clearly tied to the underlying issue.  Showing an oil-covered bird in the background in an explanation of how much oil was spilled would not add to one's understanding of the amount of oil spilled. Some examples of emotional imagery in charts that add little probative value but add undue prejudice are below.

This one is used to sell water filters, but if used in court in a fracking lawsuit, the poison symbol would (if objected to) rule the chart inadmissible.

demonstrative-evidence-consultants-prejudicial-probative


The chart below shows the surprisingly small size of the
Deepwater Horizon spill when compared to historical spills. The photograph adds nothing to the viewers understanding, so it might be objectionable if used as a demonstrative [Flash content].


Since it requires the viewer to decode several different riddles before understanding the message, the chart below is a model of poor chart design worthy of its own blog post. This riddle-making mistake is commonly made by those without training in preparing demonstrative evidence and non-demonstrative evidence consultants. Here a legend is used (generally speaking, this is always a bad idea), so you have to first find that. Then you have to read sideways - twice - in two different directions. Then you have to figure out from the subtle color coding of the legend that blue is left and red is right. THEN, you have to determine that left is 2005 and right is 2010.  It's a chart mess, however, it provides a good example of some imagery that would potentially be objectionable. The cigarettes being snuffed out add little to the message and are there only for emotional impact. Close call though. Do you think this chart would be excluded in your jurisdiction - leave a comment below?

demonstrative evidence bad chart example do not use legends keys

Other resources about demonstrative evidence or demonstrative evidence consultants:

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


Claim a FREE Subscription to this Blog - The Litigation Consulting Report - Quarterly iPad Giveaways for Subscribers


Comments

Awesome graphic representation. I think on some level, everyone has seen or heard of these issues with percentages and statistics but no one has ever brought it to light quite like you did. Great article. I'm passing it on.
Posted @ Sunday, December 02, 2012 3:49 PM by Shaun Frisbee
Post Comment
Name
 *
Email
 *
Website (optional)
Comment
 *

Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics