Discovery is a challenging and rewarding process. The rewards are frequently based on the speed and efficiency of data acquisition and its interpretation; the pitfalls are related to the lack thereof. Therefore, success in the discovery process is only as effective as the technology used to uncover and apply it.
The most important aspect of discovery technology is the application of the deponent’s spoken word. The ability to present information in a cogent manner is critical when influencing a jury.
The newest advances in the discovery process have recently been made in audio technology. “What is so important about using the audio and video technology?” you may ask. After all, reading the text of a deposition in the courtroom has long been the format of choice for legal professionals. It is not that these outdated methods are unacceptable; they are simply under convincing.
Impeachment may be the heart of the legal process, but conviction is its soul! Conviction relates to convincing jurors that only one position is correct; that the evidence overwhelmingly supports a single point of view. A good argument with great facts is only as strong as the ability to present it effectively. The emotional impact and retention of information—that most valuable of commodities in legal presentations—can be lost when an attorney is limited to reading aloud from portions of a typed transcript. It becomes even more difficult if accessing that information is slow and cumbersome.
Therefore, bringing the testimony to life is an extremely effective way to impact a jury. Attorneys have the option of using the most effective tool of all: the voice and image of the witness.
What if an attorney could reconstruct every heart-felt sob, nervous stutter, angry moment, or long pause that was not accessible with only the written transcript available? These nonverbal cues are the thrust behind the communication. Letting jurors hear and see the words of the witness exactly as they were spoken sends a powerful message.
Legal professionals can now access specific portions of testimony with only a few computer key strokes. The jury can then view the deponent’s image and hear their voice as each spoken word is highlighted on the screen.
Using the video file, each deposition is recorded and synchronized to provide immediate access to the transcript information. This modern option employs an audio-video recording of the deponent’s testimony, which is synchronized to the written transcript word-for-word. The file is linked to each word of the transcript using a unique software program, allowing simultaneous audio and video access to any word or phrase. Therefore, by simply selecting a specific word, an attorney can present it to the jury exactly as it was spoken. There is an array of support programs for instant access to and extended manipulation of the textual material.
To make the most of time is also paramount in the legal profession. This increasingly rare commodity is the most powerful resource a lawyer can employ, whether in the courtroom or not. Time lost can have a serious impact on the outcome of a case. Busy attorneys spend many hours in transit, hours that can be both frustrating and unproductive. If you have chosen to also videotape the testimony, you can simply request an audio viewer to access at your convenience.
The good news is that this loss of productive time is no longer necessary!
The flexibility of the audio version is obvious. Legal professionals now have more time to accomplish their goals. Attorneys can review cases while commuting or allowing them increased opportunities to use their talents and billable time more effectively. The audio thus allows you the luxury at a moment’s notice to use your time to its fullest potential.
The old adage, “Time and tide wait for no man,” is still true today. Discovery can be a rewarding process, but only if there is sufficient opportunity to organize the available information. Flexibility and speed of data acquisition are essential to this process. The issue for attorneys is simple: Those who use the latest technology have more time to research the facts and plan an effective strategy.
The question should no longer be what technology exists, but how best to apply it. The choice should never be “use it or lose it,” but “use it and win.”