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In trial presentation graphics, a great deal can depend on the quantity of data that is presented to the jury and on the way in which it is presented. For example, it has become conventional wisdom that humans generate pollution in the form of carbon dioxide, that carbon dioxide and other pollutants cause a greenhouse effect on the planet, and that this effect noticeably raises global temperatures and/or causes climate change. Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, cemented this belief in the minds of the public and future jurors, largely through the use of effective visual presentations. The U.S. Government chart below captures the conventional wisdom well. As large quantities of carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere with rapid industrialization in the past 100 years or so, global temperatures went up, it shows.

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Timelines can be extremely helpful in many types of trials. Whenever the order in which events occurred is a significant issue, or a jury or judge needs to understand how a story began and ended, a timeline is appropriate. As Texas attorney and legal technology expert Jeffrey S. Lisson has written [pdf], “Timelines are the most effective way to give a judge or jury a sense of who did what, when, and to whom. Just as bar charts and graphs help the uninitiated make sense out of a sea of facts and figures, timelines show the relationship between events. Timelines generally show events laid out on a horizontal, constant chronological scale. Events – the writing of a memo, the reading of an x-ray, or the shooting of a gun – are listed in the order they occurred. While tables of dates and facts require effort to understand, timelines are instantly clear.”

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Part 2 of 2 ( go to part 1) I will begin by reiterating key elements of the first post in this this two part series. More than 20 years ago, the Justice Department began filing lawsuits against a large number of coal fired power plants based on a Clean Air Act provision called New Source Review (NSR).  The NSR process calls on power plant operators to seek EPA review and approval before making modifications to their power plant that would significantly increase emissions.  An exception exists routine maintenance.  Since Congress neglected to define routine and significant, litigation has followed over these definitions. Animators at Law has worked on many of these cases and created trial graphics and legal animations.  I want to share portions of a 13-minute animation used in the opening of an NSR bench trial in 2003.  We worked on behalf of the power plant owner in this matter.  We faced multiple challenges such as: conveying the scale of the plant; explaining the plant's operation; showing how the projects in question were not large; showing how these projects were in fact routine maintenance; showing how none of the projects increased emissions. After the Justice Department opened its case with an animation that compared the size of parts changed during routine maintenance to elephants, houses and semi-trucks, we had to make the point that while large parts were changed, they are relatively small in the context of such a large facility.  With billions of dollars at stake, Animators at Law prepared a large number of trial boards and legal animations for the case. In part one of this post, I shared how Animators at Law compared the size of the facility to Busch Stadium using legal animations.  Below is an example of how we combined technical illustration with a legal animation overlay to provide an overview of the plant, to explain how the plant worked and to again emphasize scale. Below is a trial exhibit used in an NSR trial that effectively compared the routine maintenance of the bridge to the routine maintenance at a coal fired power plant.  We think it was a very effective analogy and a leading environmental publication agreed and remarked on its use. Below is another legal animation showing some highly skilled 3-D modeling and animation used in another New Source Review Case.  The 3-D model was used in other legal animations and graphics to explain the unique geography of the plant.

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Part 1 of 2 (go to part 2) In the 1990's the DOJ/EPA initiated litigation against a large number of coal-fired power plants based on the New Source Review (NSR) process under the Clean Air Act.  Among other things, the NSR process requires operators of coal-fired power plants to seek EPA review and approval to make modifications to their plant that would increase emissions.  Exceptions exist for routine maintenance at the plant and any emission increase must also be significant.  Unfortunately, Congress neglected to define routine and significant. Animators at Law has been called upon to create legal animations and other information design focused trial graphics in a number of these cases.  These cases typically have billions of dollars at stake, and the more EPA-friendly the current presidential administration, the more cases get filed. In this two-part post, I want to share portions of a 13-minute animation created for use in opening in one of these NSR bench trials.  We worked on behalf of the power plant operator in this matter, and we faced a Government trial team who came armed with their own legal animation. Throughout the history of NSR cases, the Government has taken the position that any big change at the plant requires EPA approval.  This includes large parts that are changed routinely.  It turns out, however, that most parts in a plant this size are large, and the government argues that by maintaining the plant, one is extending its operating life thus increasing emissions. The Government opened its case with an animation that compared the size of parts changed during routine maintenance to elephants, houses and semi-trucks.  Our challenge was to make the point that while large parts were changed, they are relatively small in the context of such a large facility. We knew two things that were helpful in this bench trial.  First, the government was comparing our parts to semi-trucks.  Second, the judge was known to visit the old Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals played and where semi-trucks were often parked outside. The message delivered by the clip below in opening was: yes, we changed big parts, but everything at our plant is big, thus we must ask, big compared to what?  Is a semi-truck really that big compared to not one Busch Stadium but twenty?  I think this legal animation reflects a good use of information design to convey scale when billions of dollars where at stake.

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