Check the Law
Whether you decide to use technology or not, the first step that needs to be taken, is to check the law with regard to use of technology. The Uniform Superior Court Rules comment on electronic devices being used in courtrooms. Specifically, Uniform Superior Court Rule (USCR) 22 limits the use of certain electronic devices for the purpose of recording judicial proceedings, which was amended by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2018. A similar rule to USCR 22 has been adopted by Georgia Magistrate Courts, Probate Courts and Juvenile Courts. Also, many if not all Federal Courts do not allow certain electronic devices at all, such as cell phones and laptops, and special permission must be granted ahead of time for such devices to be brought into the building.
Know What is Available
After considering the pertinent rules for the courtroom you will be in, the next step is to identify what technology already exists in that courtroom. All courtrooms are different, and are equipped with different technology. With 159 counties in Georgia, each with its own unique courthouse and courtrooms, there is no one size fits all approach to interfacing with each courtroom’s technology. My approach is to know my courtroom’s technology well in advance, by either physically visiting the courthouse or calling the court and verifying what technology the specific courtroom I will be in has. One courtroom may have cables and connections for your equipment, whereas the courtroom next door may not.
I use Mac and Apple devices in my practice, and know that many courtrooms are not equipped for Apple connections. I have several adapters and products that I carry with me to court, which are compatible with most Microsoft based connections. Since not all courtrooms are the same, it is your responsibility to know whether you need adapters to make your technology functional. The last thing you want is to show up to court without what you need to present your case. You will appear unprepared, risk annoying the judge and court staff and delaying the presentation of the case, and most importantly – lose credibility with the jurors.
In a recent trial, opposing counsel did not show up prepared for the courtroom technology and could not connect her laptop. Opposing counsel asked to use my computer, for the defendant’s case. I was faced with the dilemma of showing deference to the profession and helping a fellow human by allowing use of my computer, or being a zealous advocate for my client and not helping my adversary succeed. In the end, I chose to not allow opposing counsel to use my computer, for fear that privileged information would inadvertently be disclosed and hurt my client. Opposing counsel ended up borrowing a computer from the court, but was flustered, annoyed the court, and generally started the case off on the wrong foot. I secured a plaintiff verdict on a disputed liability case.
If possible, the best practice I can recommend is to visit the courtroom before your trial, in person, and bring your equipment with you. Ask permission from the court, and befriend the court staff in order to secure an opportunity to practice using your technology in the courtroom. Days before the case begins, either before the court opens, while the courtroom is empty, or after working hours, take the time visit the courtroom and practice using your technology. Work this requirement into your list of things to accomplish to be as prepared as you can be to effectively present your case.
As a final note, I use technology sparingly, and depending on the facts that need presenting in a case. If technology overcomplicates or confuses the issues, or is not seamlessly woven into the presentation of the case through preparation and practice, I think it hurts more than helps. Sometimes good old fashioned flip charts or white boards can be more effective and more engaging with the jurors. If you choose to use technology, you must know how that technology will work in the courtroom you will be in, and be prepared to use it effectively. ●
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kyle M. Moore is the founder of Gainesville’s Kyle M. Moore Law. He specializes in representing victims of car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, landowner negligence, vaccine injury and the families of those who have suffered a wrongful death. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pre-Trial Technology Checklist
To be sure that technology doesn’t become your enemy before you even begin your case, use the following list of considerations to prepare well in advance of your trial date:
What technology will I need from the court and what will I need to bring myself?
Have I verified what the technology is in the courtroom I will be using for my case?
Am I going to need to use technology for my case?
Have I verified and practiced connecting to the internet connection in the courtroom?
Have I asked permission to practice using the technology in the courtroom well in advance of when the case begins?
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