We have previously discussed how valuable timelines used as legal graphics can be in the presentation of facts at trial. As we have noted, most cases involve the placing of events along some sort of time sequence, and timelines, if they are well designed, can give jurors a straightforward introduction to the facts of a case. In fact, we recently released an e-book describing best practices for the use of timelines and legal graphics at trial.
Like timelines, calendars are also an intuitive way to organize facts and events that occur in a time sequence. In fact, they are even more intuitive because everyone is familiar with them and because they help everyone organize information on a day-to-day basis. Calendars can be especially helpful at trial when there is a lot of data that must be conveyed quickly and understandably, and when that data must be understood as a time sequence. This could involve conversations, meetings, appointments, dates of official events (such as the signing of a will or a contract), and the like.
In What You Didn’t Learn In Law School About Trial Practice (2008), longtime Indiana trial lawyer Charles Bruess wrote: “In an employment discrimination case in which the defendant company maintained plaintiff was discharged for excessive absenteeism, an issue was what days plaintiff worked or did not work. Counsel brought large monthly calendars, placed them on an easel, and, as the witness testified as to the days worked or not worked, the dates were marked accordingly on the calendars. The calendars were marked as exhibits and were introduced into evidence.”
Below, to cite another legal graphics example, we used a calendar to illustrate key dates in the RFP process for a government contract, starting with the date on which the compressed RFP was issued by the Department of Defense.
In this series of legal graphics we show, in a partnership dispute, the dates on which the defendant was in the office and the dates on which he received calls or faxes from the plaintiff.
In an employment case, we used this ordinary calendar legal graphic to illustrate the dates on which a plaintiff took days off from work for various reasons. A simple color-coding technique made it easy for the jury to understand the sequence.
Next, in a medical treatment calendar legal graphic, we showed the dates of key surgeries, office visits, and hospital stays, again accompanied by a simple color-coding technique.
Finally, we used a calendar legal graphic to show key dates in the development of an invention that was at issue in a patent trial.