Justifying multiple viewings of video or audio evidence during trial

Strategies & justification to the court for playing audio and video evidence

When it comes to how you decide to utilize your recorded video or audio evidence, there are just as many strategies for use in trial as there are cases. But at the same time, attorneys should think very carefully about how many times they choose to actually playback the audio or video evidence at trial. You want your audio or video evidence to have a compelling and powerful effect on the jury, and that means picking and choosing when they see or hear it. Sometimes, the opposing council will object to playing digital media evidence multiple times, and you will need to justify your legal strategy to the judge. It’s very common to spend months — sometimes even years — forensically investigating, analyzing and enhancing audio or video evidence, and although you may be very familiar with the evidence in question, your jury has likely never seen it before. Therefore, they must be given the opportunity to become familiar enough with the video or audio so that witness testimony makes sense.

Objections raised by opposing counsel

Opposing attorneys, or the actual court itself, might object to the repeated playback of video or audio evidence, claiming that repetitive presentation of the same digital media recordings is unnesscesary. So what should an attorney say to this?

Repeated playback of video and audio at trial

If the judge is against multiple viewings of the audio or video evidence, make sure to convey how each viewing of the evidence is uniquely focused to show the jury a specific issue to further understand the content. Make sure to emphasize that your forensic experts have been reviewing the digital media evidence for months and that it takes multiple viewings of the recorded footage or audio in order for the jury to see some of the important details of the case. This will allow the judge and jury to understand the steps of developing and clarifying the video or audio evidence.

Development of the digital evidence — example of multiple plays and multiple purposes

During the first playback of video or audio evidence, counsel plays the media at the regular speed.

Second, counsel plays the video or audio evidence at a slower speed, with added contrast or brightness and other audio and video filters to aid interested parties in seeing certain details.

Third, play the video footage with further forensic enhancements added, such as enlarging the image, adding higher intensity filters, and possibly adding arrows or circles to indicate areas of interest. Each video playback of the enhanced video or audio evidence can add to viewers’ overall comprehension.