Technology in the Courtroom

October 8, 2019

Technology in the Courtroom

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Make a Lasting Impact at Trial

by Audrey Priolo, Litigation Review Attorney

Despite the acceleration of technology in our daily lives, technology is still underused in the courtroom.  While using an ELMO to project trial exhibits is virtually an extinct practice, most trial lawyers still fail to use technology to its fullest capabilities.  My prior firm was committed to using technology in trial to give jurors an accessible way to understand our case.  As part of that practice, videotaping every deposition was a necessity.  Deposition video is essential in case the deponent becomes unavailable for trial and to create impactful impeachment of opposing witnesses.  Most jurors tune out when an attorney opens a deposition transcript and starts reading.  However, jurors pay close attention when a witness testifies, and impeachment video is played.  Imagine a juror hearing a witness testify with an overwhelming yes response, and a moment later the jurors get to see the same witness on video saying an astounding no to the same question. Technology, when used correctly, makes a lasting impact on jurors.  As video deposition testimony becomes more prevalent in the courtroom, it is important for attorneys to familiarize themselves with the applicable deadlines to ensure they don’t miss their opportunity to present electronic depositions.

California Rule of Court 2.1040 gives deadlines for electronic recordings offered into evidence. CRC 2.1040 requires:

  • A party to lodge a transcript of the deposition testimony before electronic recordings are offered into evidence.
  • At the time the recording is played, the deposition transcript must be identified on the record.
  • To preserve the electronic testimony for the trial record and potential appeal, there are two options:

(1) The court reporter can transcribe the recording into the record (however, the court reporter is not required to transcribe the electronic recording unless ordered by a trial judge, see CRC 2.1040(d)); or

(2) At the close of evidence or five calendar days after the electronic testimony is offered into evidence (whichever is later), the party must serve and file a copy of the transcript cover and a copy of the pertinent pages marked to show the testimony used.

Further, it is imperative to know the applicable local and judge’s rules. For example, Los Angeles County Local Rule 3.158 requires counsel to obtain leave of court before playing video depositions.  Additionally, counsel must inform the court and opposing counsel of the portions that will be used and give opposing counsel a reasonable opportunity to object.  If you miss these deadlines, you will likely also miss your opportunity to make a lasting impression on the jury.

Audrey L. Priolo is a licensed California attorney with over 13 years of litigation and trial experience, who now works at American LegalNet as a Litigation Review Attorney. Questions can be addressed to her at apriolo@alncopr.com

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