Three important lessons for visual aids: (1) Tie animations or other visual aids tightly to the evidence in the case; (2) Use simple visual aids to help jurors understand and track the evidence; and (3) Design visual aids that communicate your themes to the jury.
Cogent Legal Blog
Going to trial requires planning and attention to detail. Jurors may not see the details of your plan, but they will appreciate attorneys who move quickly in trial and show respect for the jurors’ valuable time and attention. Good pre-trial planning should include preparing trial exhibits for display and use in trial with consistent format, naming and labeling conventions. In trial, I want digital copies of the exhibits on my trial laptop that I can easily search, share, display and use to incorporate exhibits into outlines for opening, closing and witness examinations. In this post, I’ll share my tips for digitally organizing trial exhibits.
A “biomechanical animation” is a powerful visual format to develop and display in conjunction with a biomechanical expert, even in an admitted liability case. Such animations are relevant when there is not complete agreement on the causation, extent and nature of all injuries.
From the plaintiff perspective, an admission of liability by the defendant is only saying that he or she admits they did something wrong. It does not rule out a claim by the defendant that they believe the plaintiff also did something wrong. Therefore, on this point alone, you may have to deal with showing and explaining issues of comparative fault to a jury.
Cogent Legal offers webinars and live presentations about graphics and technology for litigation. This post announces webinars about case management databases and iPads for trial presentation.
At Cogent, we often work with experts and trial counsel to prepare graphics illustrating and explaining expert opinions. Thus, a new Ninth Circuit decision about the scope of expert discovery in federal court caught our attention. The decision in Republic of Ecuador v. Mackay, No. 12-15572 (9th Cir. Jan. 31, 2014) poses the question: where the expert has served both as a confidential advisor to counsel and as a testifying expert, may counsel withhold documents shared with the expert by asserting an opinion work product objection? The short answer is no—documents from testifying experts must be produced unless protected by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(4).
A central case database where litigators track issues, witnesses, events, documents, to-do items and more is a vital tool for making e-discovery and litigation more efficient. While electronically stored information (ESI) is important, ESI rarely takes center stage in a closing argument. Rather, the attorneys will be telling the jury a story in closing argument—a story about the parties, what happened to bring those parties into court, and how the evidence before the jury supports the story. Although e-discovery may not be the star of the closing argument, it plays an important supporting role: the stories of closing will often be woven from threads first identified in e-discovery.
After spending time, effort and money to produce an animation that will support a key point of your case (or disprove a key point of your opponents’ case), you want to make sure the jury actually gets to see your animation. This post will discuss a couple of recent California
Being able to make a presentation wirelessly is handy for use in court, in meeting rooms—really, anytime you want to use your iPad to present to an audience. Wireless presentation is better than hard-wiring because it allows you to walk around without being tied down and looks cleaner and more impressive. This post describes using an iPhone Personal Hotspot to connect to your iPad through your iPhone to either your laptop or an Apple TV for projection on a screen.
Litigation would be much easier if you could work on just one case at a time, and if each case moved quickly to a conclusion. Unfortunately, litigators don’t have that luxury. Litigators need to jump from case to case, putting out fires in one, then jumping to the next. Because litigation can span years, litigators often need to return to information and analysis done weeks, months or even years ago.
In years of litigating big, complicated cases with these challenges, I’ve used a number of tricks to put key information and documents a couple of clicks away. In today’s blog post, I’ll share a few of those tips in the context of a patent case (for non-patent litigators, you may still find some of these tips of value).
Change is always exciting, and we have an announcement to make as we transition to 2014. The big news for the start of the year is the formation of Cogent Legal, LLC as a partnership between myself and Michael Kelleher. Mike has been consulting for Cogent Legal for the past year and blogs regularly here. This partnership makes Mike a full manager of the company, but continues with the same business focus we have had in the past of providing outstanding legal graphics for litigation.
I’m so happy to have a partner, who like myself is a former practicing litigator with a great deal of trial experience. Mike’s speciality in business litigation—he’s a former partner and head of IP practice at Folger Levin & Kahn—complements my background in class action and PI cases.
Cogent Legal created plaintiffs’ visual presentation of the PG&E San Bruno fire cases for the key motion for summary judgment brought by defendant PG&E.
Using examples adapted from a real case, this post discusses alternatives to present months of data about an employee’s habitual tardiness that led to termination.
Trial courts have discretion to award costs for trial technology under the decision in Bender v. County of Los Angeles, Cal. App. 2d Dist. (July 9, 2013). The court held: “Almost 20 years have passed since Science Applications was decided, during which time the use of technology in the courtroom has become commonplace (including a technician to monitor the equipment and quickly resolve any glitches), and technology costs have dramatically declined. . . The costs at issue total just over $24,000, and the trial court specifically found the trial technology enhanced counsel’s advocacy and was reasonably necessary to the conduct of the litigation. The court acted well within its discretion in allowing recovery of these costs.” Bender (p. 991.)
Yesterday for Christmas, I opened a box that contained my very own Google Glass, and I know I’ll spend a good chunk of time during this vacation week teaching myself how to use the device. Once I get a feel for how Glass works and how attorneys might harness its
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Who we are
Morgan C. Smith, president and founder of Cogent Legal, is an attorney who litigated complex, high-value cases for almost two decades.
Michael Kelleher is a registered patent attorney and former partner at the firm of Folger Levin & Kahn where he litigated IP and complex business cases for 16 years.
Andrew Walker is the Co-Executive Director of the Sacramento office, and an attorney with many years' experience in mock trial work.
Deep Athwal is Co-Executive Director in Sacramento, and also an attorney with extensive mock trial experience.