Show Me.

Show Me.

An experienced trial lawyer once told me “Tell me and I will listen, but SHOW me and I will understand.”  This was his philosophy in presenting cases to juries and I think it has even more significance today where TV causes juries to expect CSI magic.  The above video is an entertaining 3d recreation of Flight 1549 landing on the Hudson.  The video was produced by a company that specialized in 3d reenactments of accidents and presented to lawyers recently at the ABA’s recent Tecshow for lawyers.  While I’m sure that chalkboards and flipcharts will continue to be used with smaller cases, in larger, serious motor vehicle and other accidents, this type of video would be extremely powerful.  A jury couldn’t help but be more impressed by a 3d video showing one party at fault, especially if the other party relied on more low tech illustrations to prove their case. 

This has long been a concern of the courts and the law of evidence in civil court has some clear rules regarding the presentation of this type of evidence.  When a demonstration or experiment is offered as actual proof of something, the circumstances must be substantially similar to those prevailing at time of occurrence in controversy.  However, far easier to get in front of a jury is illustrative evidence that simply helps explain the testimony of a witness.  This type of evidence can be as simple as drawing an intersection on a chalkboard and as complicated as the plane landing video.  The judge still retains some power to exclude any evidence if he thinks it will be unduly prejudicial, however, most judges simply rely on the other side and their cross-examination to point out flaws in the witness statement and the illustrative evidence that shows it. 

–Bradley A. Coxe is a practicing attorney in Wilmington, NC who
specializes in Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Contract and Real
Estate disputes and all forms of Civil Litigation.  Please contact him
at (910) 772-1678.  

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