In any court case, even if we enhance video or audio evidence to perfection, our evidence will be completely useless without the proper courtroom presentation. What I mean is that unlike tangible evidence, as in an official transcript, or a weapon on which fingerprints were lifted, audio and video needs to be set up to play in court at its highest quality. There is no range of clarity for say, a knife – it is a knife, and whether or not it was used as a weapon, there is no questioning its existence. A jury member will watch an attorney submit it as evidence, and an expert may demonstrate it’s use in trial.

A video, however, is not always a straight forward tool to use in trial. It can be shown badly — in low resolution due to outdated equipment — and the jury might not see crucial details. The court’s florescent lighting can wash out the video image. The screen can be too far away for the jury to clearly see what is happening. Or the sun may come through a window at precisely the wrong moment and block parts of the screen. The same goes for audio. Speakers range in quality and the wrong placement of can limit audience hearing – the most critical detail might not make it through a court’s dated sound equipment. This is why we prepare.

Your video or audio evidence may bring to light undeniably vital facts about the case, and if so, you better be able to demonstrate this to your jury!

Not all cases have the funding to set up in the courtroom. Yet, if it is important enough to you and your client, NCAVF has forensic experts available to optimize the courtroom to show your audio and video evidence. Too often we’ve seen attorneys fumbling with cords and courtroom switches in the seconds before a jury is to be shown media evidence. This distracts the attorney from the main point of his job — to effectively argue his case.

In big cases, we like to go to court a week early to do our setup and testing. The judge will normally let you do this as long as it’s not interfering with an existing case. Just do the setup and test during lunch, or early in the day before the judge needs the courtroom. We set up all the equipment; lay the extension cords down, put up monitors to test and check our speakers. You even lend us your computer so we test the actual computers with the actual cables and speakers. We’re like a band before the concert. Once all is working, we break it down and remove the valuable audio and video equipment, leaving the cords carefully taped down and out of the way. So when it’s time for your court case, all we need to do is plug in the equipment. And everything works smoothly since it’s been fully tested.

These days, when we talk about monitors, we usually mean HD Televisions. This may be the most important aspect of presenting your evidence. You want to have a high definition flat screen television set up for the jury to see clearly. If you were thinking of projecting it, you should know that when showing video, Elmo = no. Projection screens are the death of your evidence. Elmos and projection screens can be quite useful for showing text of legal documents, some photos, and court transcripts, but for video most Elmo systems are not helpful do to lost resolution.

Instead, secure a high definition flat screen television that the jury can see perfectly. It is possible you may need to set one up for the judge too (a smaller screen is fine).

Now you’re ready to focus on your job as a lawyer — the facts of the case.