Winning with Demonstrative Evidence – Tips from the Trenches
Using demonstrative evidence is one way to follow the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid – and increase the chances of winning your case! How do you do it? Boil your case down to one simple, easy to understand paragraph that lays out the essence of your case. Then, extract the essential elements from the paragraph and think of ways you can explain every element or key point using only illustrations, pictures, models or charts that a layperson could look at and easily and fully comprehend without hearing a word from anyone. If you can portray your case with demonstrative evidence alone, you have done your job.
While you can easily hire a an expert to assist you in this venture, you alone are the starting point and you must initially define your case and use your creativity to envision the kind of demonstrative exhibits you need to prove your case. Most graphic firms that provide litigation assistance have considerable experience and expertise in composing demonstrative exhibits. They will take your ideas and help you simplify and improve the design of your rough draft exhibit to make it more professional looking and understandable.
Once you have the final exhibits put together in draft, show them to folks as a test to see if they understand your case from the exhibits. Ask for criticisms to explore how they think the exhibit could be improved or expanded with further information or explanation to make the case even more understandable. Go through this process as often as possible before the exhibits are put into final for blow-up on poster board or inclusion as a power point frame.
Next, try and work the demonstrative evidence into every aspect of the case you possibly can. Use them in opening, use them in closing, use them with witnesses and use them to explain how everything fits together – whether it be the story, the theme or concepts of medicine, injury or damages. Jurors will keep these visuals in their mind through the entire case. They will serve as a constant and brief reminder to the jury of the essen- tial reasons throughout the trial of why you should win your case.
Finally, even though your experts will be able to establish the exhibit is a fair and accurate depiction of the evidence and the exhibit will be helpful in explaining the issue to the jury, anticipate objections to the exhibits. Remember, all relevant evidence is admissible under K.S.A. 60-407(f), including demonstrative exhibits. Cases to remember: 1) demonstrative exhibits likely to be admit- ted in your case in chief should be allowed for use in opening statement. West v. Martin, 11 Kan. App. 2d 55 (1986); demonstrative evidence presented in power point format is admissible. State v. Adams, 280 Kan. 494 at 507 (2005); and, once the demonstrative exhibit has been admitted, it is error to not allow the exhibit to go to the jury room during deliberations. Morgan v Abay, M.D., 252 Kan. 853 (1993).
In sum and substance, don’t hesitate to use demonstrative exhibits to help prove your case.