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Quote of the Day - It's pretty clear from the more than 60,000 pages of documents that have been released that [now U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice] John Roberts has a great sense of humor. In this memo, he offers a lawyer joke. - Steve Schmidt
Clerk Overrules Judge Disallowing Use Of Electronic Evidence
MIPTC was recently engaged in a long-cause, document-intensive trial. We waded through enough documents to take up several compact disks, which now reside (thankfully) on my tablet computer's hard drive. In court, we used Trial Director software to present the evidence, which is a combination of documents saved in Adobe format and video, through a projector onto a screen set up in the jury box.
The parties, lawyers, witnesses, judge, court reporter, bailiff and clerk can easily see the exhibits on the screen, and when necessary, we can zoom in to the relevant portion of the exhibit and blow it up even further. Compared to some set-ups, it relatively low-tech, but it works tremendously well - well almost. I have only one horror story.
But more on that in a minute.
During the typical housekeeping discussions with the judge on the first day of the trial, I explained the difficulties in dealing with such a large quantity of documents to the judge and obtained permission to use the computer system in the courtroom to display the evidence. The judge likewise agreed to accept the evidence in the form of the compact disks we prepared. I dutifully handed them to the clerk.
That's when the brakes got applied. The clerk's supervisor decided to become involved.
She wants paper copies, and only paper copies. Forget what the judge ruled, if I want my exhibits marked, then they have to be in paper form. She very politely (but firmly) reminded me that the judge doesn't mark exhibits, she does. So, we're one-fourth of the way through the trial, and we're now printing out copies of all the exhibits that have been introduced too far, and will be introduced.
We've applied to the CHP for an extra-long trailer, weight waivers and bought "Oversize Load" signs for the truck to take the documents to the courthouse, along with a forklift to take them in. We'll put the pallets right on the clerk's desk next to the compact disks.
No matter how technologically advanced you are, there are practical realities that will have an influence on your use of it.
Our horror story? Despite my caution to make an electronic backup, heading pell-mell for the trial, we didn't and of course the (brand new) LaCie hard drive crashed two days into the trial. We copied the disks to the tablet and were back up and running in a little under an hour, while the judge, lawyers and witnesses waited. One other caution: While the Trial Director software worked passably well, it was clunky and difficult to use, so we're now searching about for a more user-friendly interface. My assistant recommends against a repeat run.