Litigation Support Tip of the Night

May 25, 2020

Anyone who has spent some time around courts in recent years, is likely to have heard attorneys, judges, and even jurors refer to the, 'The CSI Effect'.  Dramas which focus on forensic investigation in criminal cases have led to there being a large number of people in jury pools who expect to presented with extensive forensic evidence.  This in turn raises the standard of proof for public prosecutors.  Circumstantial evidence may not be given as much importance as its should.  The CSI Effect can also lead to higher expectations for forensic techniques. 

A study has been conducted on the CSI Effect by a police officer with a bachelor's degree in Justice Studies.  John Alldrege, The "CSI Effect" and Its Potential Impact on Juror Decisions, 3 Themis: Research Journal of Justice Studies and Forensic Science 6 (2015), available at http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/themis/vol3/iss1/6 .  Alldredge notes that visual presentations on forensic evidence can help correct misleading impressions about its value, and points out attorneys may try to weed out jurors influenced by television dramas centered around forensic evidence during voir dire.   Attorneys are also more likely to request unnecessary crime lab tests. 

Allredge cites a study that jurors who watch a lot of television are less likely to reach a guilty verdict in criminal cases.  R.M. Hayes-Smith, L.M. Levett, Jury’s still out: How television and crime show viewing influences jurors’ evaluations of evidence, 7(1) Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice 29-46 (2011).  Generally, the CSI Effect leads to a pro-defense bias.  The same study also conducted a survey which indicated that most jurors had no knowledge of the CSI Effect, but those that did would make sure that they were not influenced by it.  

Another study found that people who frequently watch television drams where the use of forensic evidence is showcased place less probative value on circumstantial evidence.  Y.S. Kim, G. Barak, & D.E. Shelton, D.E., Examining the“CSI-effect” in the cases of circumstantial evidence and eyewitness testimony: Multivariate and path analyses. 37(5) Journal of Criminal Justice 452 (2009).

Multimedia presentations may help educate jurors who are 'visual learners' that forensic evidence is not infallible.   

May 23, 2020

Two years ago, the Cornell Law Review published the results of a survey of more than 500 jurors who served at federal trials.  Hon. Amy J. St. Eve & Gretchen Scavo, What Do Juries Really Think: Practical Guidance for Trial Lawyers, 103 Cornell L. Rev. Online 149 (2018).  The authors of the study are a judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and a former Winston & Strawn LLP partner.   The article discusses jurors' thoughts about lawyers' use of technology and the presentation of evidence that paralegals help prepare.  Here are some key points:

1. Jurors prefer that attorneys use technology to present evidence. 

2. Jurors appreciate the use of timelines.  They want evidence to presented chronologically. 

3.  The main issue the surveyed jurors focused on was "attorney organization, preparation, and efficiency".  Id. at 155. 

4. Jurors frequently complained that they were not able to hear the attorneys.  The authors recommend testing the acoustics of the courtroom before the trial begins. 

5. "Many jurors are accustomed to learning through technology, and technologically enhanced presentations present an ideal platform to summarize and connect the dots between the evidence presented at trial and the applicable law in a way that is especially useful for visual learners." Id. at 169-70. 

6. Jurors have a preference for evidence that is displayed visually on screens. 

7.  Jurors will be critical if attorneys cannot use technology effectively.  They complained when attorneys did not learn how to use hardware beforehand. 

8. Every trial tech who has been in the hot seat will appreciate that the authors admonish lawyers to, "take the time to learn about and practice with the courtroom's technology so that the trial is not a dress rehearsal."  Id. at *170. 

9. Jurors prefer that deposition designations not be made for long excerpts of testimony. 

10. Focus on the relevance of exhibits and do waste time discussing unimportant details. 

11. Give the jury sufficient time to read exhibits that are displayed to them. 

The article also points out that jurors "despise--and are even insulted" when attorneys excessively repeat questions or basic concepts.  Id. at 153.  They also do not like it when attorneys are hostile to each other, or when they attack witnesses.  

The article ends with this conclusion: "Effective use of technology helps, as does organizing evidence into a cohesive timeline or other easy to-follow summary."  Id. at 174.  

October 19, 2019

You may experience problems attempting a reinstall of Trial Director 6 on Windows 10.   Today, when attempting to do so, Trial Director simply failed to launch for me - the welcome screen flashed for a split second, and there was no further error message.   The other applications in the Trial Director suite, including TimeCoder, would also not open. 

I contacted tech support at IPro (are these the same fine people who worked at inData?) and they were able to send me a new download file that successfully installed an update that launched without any problems on my new Windows 10 operating system.   See the posting about this issue on the IPro forum.  Note that the automated directory on for IPro tech support ((877) 324-4776) doesn't seem to mention Trial Director, but press something and they should be ready for you. 

July 15, 2019

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure set down specific guidelines for the redaction of trial transcripts.  The following information must be redacted from a transcript:

1. Social security numbers (the last four digits can be left unredacted).

2. Birth dates (the year can be left unredacted). 

3. The names of minor children (initials can be used). 

4. Financial account numbers (the last four digits can be left unredacted).  

   See, Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.2(a).  The parties have 7 days from the filing of the notice of the filing of the official transcript to file a notice to request the redaction of these four types of information from the transcript.  A copy of the notice must be served on the reporter.   See the example posted on the site of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

A statement indicating what is to be redacted must be filed 21 days after this notice.  Guidelines posted to the sites of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina and United States District Court for the District of Colorado indicate that statements should contain references in this form: 

Social Security Number 123-45-6789 on page 12, line 9 should be redacted to read xxx-xx-6789.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has posted a form on its site which breaks the information down in a chart:

If the parties wish to redact any other information, they must file a motion to do so within the same 21 day period.  After an order has been issued for further redactions, the reporter then performs the redactions by the date stated in the order.   The redacted version of the transcript (or the original if no redactions are performed) is released on PACER after 90 days.   Only attorneys who pay for transcripts, and court users can have access to the transcript before this 90-day period is up, unless the public terminal at the courthouse is used to view the transcript.  

Some courts restrict access to the transcript of the voir dire proceeding in order to avoid the need to request the redaction of the personal information of jurors. 

Please reload

Please reload

Sean O'Shea has more than 15 years of experience in the litigation support field with major law firms in New York and San Francisco.   He is an ACEDS Certified eDiscovery Specialist and a Relativity Certified Administrator.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the owner and do not reflect the views or opinions of the owner’s employer.

 

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

 

This policy is subject to change at any time.