Ten Commandments of Legal Video

 

Videotape depositions were first shown in court 50 years ago. Modern jurors expect to be informed with visual evidence, including day-in-the-life documentaries. Legal video, often more powerful than words alone, can backfire. Avoid pitfalls with these strategies of biblical proportions.

Honor thy Audience.  Think of the jurors when communicating with video, and be mindful of their informational needs and attention spans.

The Medium is the Message. Choose the most persuasive and accurate medium, be it video, audio, photography, or even the imagination.

Think Like a Lawyer.  Know the latest case law on admissibility of modern visual evidence, and understand the procedural rules governing discovery, work product and video depositions.

Communicate Like a Broadcast Journalist.  Attorneys are professional communicators.  They apply television production techniques and journalistic brevity to their legal points and positions. 

If it Does Not Fit, you must Quit.  Video evidence can hold jurors’ interest levels longer, but if they stop paying attention, your message may get lost. Stop talking before jurors stop listening.  

Thou Shalt Not argue, display anger, emote, or even joke on camera. Do not fear nor avoid technology.  Embrace it.  It is here to stay, and will always be changing.

When in Doubt, Leave it Out.  Litigation videos are more complex than words alone.  If your visual evidence may be interpreted differently by the opposition, consider not using it.

Use Videographers with Legal Experience. Skilled in shooting, editing and presenting evidence at trial, they also know about procedural rules, confidentiality, and conflicts of interest.

Get it Right the First Time.  Be prepared for equipment failures and delays when recording and presenting evidence.  If they occur, troubleshoot quickly, and have backup equipment and digital exhibits on hand.  With visual evidence in court, there is only one chance to get it right.

Experience is the Best Teacher. Knowledge about the influence and practical effects of using video in litigation is best learned from juror and judge feedback. 

THINK LIKE A LAWYER & COMMUNICATE LIKE A BROADCAST JOURNALIST

© 2018 Lawyers’ Video Service, Inc. by Michael J. Tabas, Esq.

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