By: Marie Roberts, Trial Consultant
It’s a critical point in the trial and you’re getting ready to introduce a key piece of evidence. All of a sudden, the screen goes blank and your video won’t play. You’re panicking, your paralegal is scrambling, the judge is impatient and the jury (not to mention your client) is beginning to question your competency.
Technology is a key component of almost any trial today, but technical mishaps can threaten to undermine even the most compelling case. Even with careful rehearsal, technology can fail. And when you’re switching and sharing with the opposing counsel, there’s even more margin for something to go wrong.
A hot seat operator provides high-level expertise and a reassuring presence to ensure the logistics and moving parts of your presentation run as smoothly as possible. Sometimes called a trial technician, a courtroom technology specialist or a trial consultant, a hot seat operator frees your trial team to focus on the big picture and telling the story.
Day-Of Trial Support
The day your trial begins, your hot seat operator is working alongside you, ready to make you look polished and give your team less to worry about. The setup and configuration of technology even in a normal scenario can be daunting. Maybe you have an older firm laptop that lags behind or needs a special converter to work with the projection. When you get to the courtroom, it might become clear that some exhibits weren’t linked properly in the database and aren’t displaying. The video might be in the wrong codec and need to be reencoded to play in the courtroom.
While you’re reviewing your opening statements and preparing with your client, your hot seat operator is tackling any initial challenges and preparing to:
- Set up and manage technical audio/video equipment in the courtroom and war room
- Run PowerPoint and a professional exhibit presentation database
- Simultaneously present deposition videos with corresponding exhibits and call outs
- Quickly find and display exhibits, demonstratives, and video
- Improvise when needed, especially if you have a special request from an expert witness.
With your hot seat operator at the reins of the technology, things will move quicker, making you look good and taking pressure off of your paralegal so they can focus on what they do best.
Troubleshooting During Trial
A hot seat operator is also always prepared for the worst case scenario and dedicated to ensuring your trial runs smoothly despite any technical challenges that may arise. Perhaps slides won’t load, your iPad Trial Pad app fails or the database crashes. The deposition might be difficult to understand and need subtitles, or the audio is too quiet for the judge and jury to hear. If the WiFi signal is weak, the Apple TV signal might suddenly cut out.
A hot seat operator will:
- Prepare and bring backup laptop with the most up-to-date exhibits and database
- Bring backup equipment for the courtroom
- Edit demonstratives and redact exhibits on the fly
- Troubleshoot problem audio clips, videos and codecs so they play smoothly
The hot seat operator is experienced at troubleshooting and prepared with backups for all scenarios which can divert the jury’s attention from the mechanics of the presentation so they can focus on what’s most important: the content.
But a hot seat operator can help with so much more than just your day-of trial needs. They can help prepare you to look as professional as possible.
A hot seat operator possesses a keen understanding of the latest technology and presentation options, providing expert-level consultation on available programs and solutions to resolve presentation challenges. Without this expertise, you may not be fully utilizing the presentation and database capabilities available to you.
Hot seat operators can provide the following support services to make your presentations more dynamic:
- Edit and enhance video clips and images
- Edit and enhance audio clips and images
- Provide robust presentation options, such a split screen, multiple call out and annotations on the fly
- Make deposition clips and sync with transcripts
- Create an exhibit database prior to trial and maintain throughout trial
Many technicians can even create graphics or infographics to help visually illustrate your case. Their expertise can be invaluable as you construct how to best tell your story, helping you keep up with your competition and meet expectations of the judge and jury.