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Trial is a fact of life as a prosecutor.
Those days are behind me, unfortunately, as most civil litigation is resolved away from the courthouse. Pleadings are exchanged and motions are filed. It is a rare day when the rush of advocacy returns, which is why a recent bench trial in a non-compete case proved a wonderful opportunity to bring the iPad back into the courtroom.
Here is how one app in particular – TrialPad – helped me display exhibits at trial.
The case concerned a dispute over the interpretation and applicability of various non-competition provisions in a franchise agreement.
Contract cases are less than riveting courtroom fare. But if you use presentation software, such as TrialPad’s zoom feature to highlight key sections of a contract? A pedantic procession of documents is suddenly more interesting to the fact-finder.
The following is a step-by-step guide to using TrialPad to organize and display exhibits at trial.
Step One: Create Electronic Exhibits
Save your exhibits as .pdf files in a Dropbox case folder.
Name each file “1. [name]“, “2. [name]“, etc., with the same numbers from your exhibit list. That will help you quickly access the exhibits in TrialPad because they will be in sequential order.
Keep originals of the documents in separate folders to be admit as paper exhibits.
Step Two: Transfer Exhibits from Dropbox to TrialPad
Open TrialPad ($89.99) and click on the plus sign in the bottom row to create a new case:
Select “Edit” and enter the name of your case:
Click on the “Dropbox” symbol (second from left) in the bottom row to access your account:
Navigate to the case folder, click on “Select Files or Folders” and tap on the documents that you want to upload as exhibits.
Click on “Import Selected Files and Folders” and choose your case:
Select “Done” to return to the main screen.
Now, your documents are uploaded into TrialPad and you are ready for trial.
Step Three: Setup Your iPad in Court
Once you have transferred your documents in TrialPad, you do not need to be connected to the Internet to access your exhibits.
Visit the courthouse before trial to check the presentation equipment.
Most federal courtrooms have a series of monitors with connections at counsel table and a podium:
No monitors? Bring a projector and a display screen.
Be sure to practice displaying the documents once you have connected your iPad (see below).
Step Four: Display Exhibits at Trial
First, be sure to admit a paper copy of the exhibit:
“Witness, I am showing you what has been previously marked as Plaintiff’s Exhibit 1.”
“Do you recognize it?” “Yes.”
“What is it?” “The contract that I signed with the defendant.”
“We move to admit Plaintiff’s Exhibit 1.”
“Permission to publish Plaintiff’s Exhibit 1 to the jury.”
Once admitted, here’s how you can display it on the screen and begin discussing it with the witness.
Open TrialPad, click on your case folder, and select “Documents” to see your list of exhibits:
Click on the exhibit that you want to display:
In the lower left corner, under “Output” move the toggle to “On” and click “Present” to show it on the screen:
Now it’s time for fireworks: use the tools at the top to manipulate and highlight portions of the document.
For example, you can highlight a section:
And zoom in on that portion of the document:
To end your presentation, slide the output to “Off” (then maybe drop the mic and walk away).
Bottom Line: TrialPad is perfect for civil litigation, especially in disputes with contracts. The price is a bargain compared to sophisticated litigation software. Even better, you can be a lone wolf in the courtroom because the app is easy enough to use without an assistant. The presentation is seamless with a little practice.
Upcoming EventsRoanoke Valley Paralegals Association
May 9, 2013
Topic: "iPad Presentation at Trial: Presenting Your Case with TrialPad, Keynote, and Exhibit View"