Published on January 25th, 2013 | by The Jury Rules0
Dealing with Problems: “The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry”
Even with sufficient planning and preparation, problems with demonstrative aids are inevitable. Presentation problems do not determine the outcome of the case as much as do the lawyer’s reactions to the problems. To alleviate potential pitfalls, create a backup plan in the event a video re-creation is denied admission at trial. Most often, the backup plan is an eyewitness who, using photos or drawings, can gain admission of the same evidence.
If a problem with an exhibit or equipment arises in front of the jury, stay calm and request a brief recess to fix the problem. Most judges will be reasonably patient for a minute or two. Use the recess to eliminate the problem without significant interruption to the jury or the court. If the judge does not allow recess, stay calm, move forward and, if feasible, introduce the demonstrative evidence at a later time. When dealing with highly technical demonstrative evidence or equipment, try offering such evidence first thing in the morning, soon after lunch or after a brief recess. That way, the equipment can be properly prepared and tested just prior to admission, thereby reducing the possibility of equipment malfunction in front of the jury.