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The iPad Friendly Courtroom - The View of a Seasoned Trial Technician

By: Daniel Carey

Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Litigation Technology, Trial Consulting, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, iPad, Arbitration/Mediation

by Daniel Carey, Senior Trial Technician, A2L Consulting

I'm in Chicago and halfway through a one-month arbitration. Seated across from me is opposing counsel. Steve Jobs would have been proud.

In the conference room where the arbitration is being held, four out of five attorneys are using iPads, propped in both landscape and portrait, all with Bluetooth keyboards. A Bluetooth keyboard is a wireless keyboard, either similar to a normal wireless keyboard or a pocket-size device that projects a full-size keyboard through infrared technology onto any flat surface.

In my last case, in Fairfax, Va., our counsel placed his iPad upon the ELMO (a device normally used to digitally project hard copy documents). The judge asked on the record, "Do you have an app for that?"

There is an app for nearly everything these days. The world has changed, and so has my work as a trial technician.

As you probably know, a trial technician (sometimes called trial consultant, trial tech or hot-seat operator) goes from trial to trial (or arbitration or hearing) providing litigation support services to the trial team. Specifically, I am normally responsible for:
  • building the exhibit and document database prior to trial;
  • cutting deposition clips and syncing them with a transcript;
  • working with counsel to prep witnesses to work with an electronic presentation;
  • setting up the war room and courtroom with electronics;
  • working to finalize the documentary and demonstrative presentations;
  • running the electronics in the courtroom so that any piece of evidence is accessible instantly;
  • making on-the-fly demonstratives to be used with a witness on cross;
  • running the demonstrative and documentary evidence presentation;
All of these tasks ordinarily need to be done on little sleep, and in the trial technician profession, we are not allowed to show stress – ever. In fact, our jobs as trial technicians are to absorb stress.

The same is true for technological change in our business. It is inevitable, and it is something that we must absorb.  The iPad is bringing rapid change just as PowerPoint once did.  It will not be long before jurors are given iPads to use throughout trial (Facebook-disabled, of course).

As Peter Summerill, a Utah attorney and author of the MacLitigator blog, has written, “At trial, the iPad really shines. Trial technology should be transparent. This means that it should not appear to the jury as (1) overly flashy; or, (2) a complete headache and a distraction to the attorney. Apple has created a product which facilitates presentation of evidence without getting in the way and does so in a completely unassuming fashion.”

Over the last year our technology team has pioneered ways to publish ebriefs on an iPad and to view all case documents and proposed demonstrative exhibits via an iPad app. Now I am seeing iPads spread quickly into courtrooms and arbitration rooms around the country.  It is an exciting time, and it is a great time to be a trial technician and a great time to try cases.

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