In our 16 years in the trial presentation business, and after consulting on more than 10,000 cases, we still hear litigators concerned that their trial presentation/litigation graphics might somehow look “too slick” and will distract the jurors, or will somehow focus attention on the relative wealth of our client who is able to afford “fancy graphics.”
In the early 1990s, this was a valid question. No one had used PowerPoint, no one had a cell phone – let alone a smart phone -- few people had personal computers, and most of those had black screens with green text.
That is no longer the case. Technology has penetrated into every part of the United States and indeed into most of the world. A 2011 report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project indicates that 85 percent of U.S. adults own a cellphone, 52 percent own a laptop computer, four percent own a tablet, and only nine percent do not own any of these or other devices covered in the study. Those numbers will only increase.
According to Robert Gaskins, the creator of PowerPoint, more than 500 million people worldwide use PowerPoint, with over 30 million PowerPoint presentations being made every day.
Trial consultant Robb Helt, at the end of a trial in rural Arkansas, was able to talk with the jurors about the use of trial presentation technology/trial techncians in their just-completed trial. Helt found that the theory that jurors are uncomfortable with technology had been “blown away” by this “down home” jury. These jurors were not only comfortable with trial presentation technology – they expected to see it.
“Today is technology. That’s what it’s all about,” one juror said.
Hear what else these rural jurors had to say below:
In their “Litigation Services Handbook: The Role of the Financial Expert,” authors Roman L. Weil, Michael J. Wagner, and Peter B. Frank write:
“Some lawyers and witnesses worry about appearing too slick. They worry that nicely designed and colorful exhibits or the use of high technology will reinforce the image that the party they represent has substantial resources and thus does not need to be awarded damages or would have little difficulty in paying them. Post-trial interviews we have conducted demonstrate that this is a needless worry. . . . Jurors often see visual communication – for example, on TV or on their own computers – that is superior to anything they see in the courtroom.”
Jurors expect trial presentation technology now. The fear of looking “too slick” is dead, and it is time to put it away for good.