Help Jurors Remember Your Witnesses

Admit it… You’re a little surprised at how quickly this trial has progressed, aren’t you? You thought it would take at least a week to try this case, but thanks to some stipulations from opposing counsel (and the judge’s continual prodding to “Move it along, counsel”) you’ve managed to pack 47 witnesses and 137 exhibits into a mere four days of testimony.

Now it’s time for your closing argument. You rise from your seat, walk to your power position in the well of the courtroom, and begin weaving together the individual snippets of testimony into a seamless story.

There’s only one problem. As you refer back to testimony from earlier in the week (“Remember when Bill Smith was telling you how the product was designed? He said that unless you held it with both hands, it would kick back and hit you in the mouth?”) you notice a quizzical look on the jurors’ faces.

They’re thinking to themselves, “Bill Smith… which guy was that? Was he the guy with the blonde hair who testified on Monday? The rough looking guy from yesterday? Jeez, I can’t remember who he was.”

Let’s face it, even in a short case, it’s not always easy to differentiate between all the different witnesses. But luckily, there’s a quick and easy solution you can apply that will make it easy for your jurors to remember who said what.

Here’s the solution: Get photos of all the witnesses.

Then, when it’s time for your closing argument, you can show the jurors the photo, and refer to the witness’s earlier testimony. The great thing about this simple trick is that when you use a computer projector to show the photo (accompanied by highlights of their testimony), it’s like they’re testifying again. Here are some quick examples:

 

“If you don’t hold the XP-500 with both hands, it will kick back up and hit you in the mouth.”

– Bill Smith
Expert Witness

 

 

“It would cost over $30,000 to make
each one safe.”

– Larry Cohen
SafeCo’s CEO

 

 

“I told the plaintiff to take the pills without food or else she’d get sick. She said, ‘Whateva, I’ll do what I want’ and walked out of our office.”

– Susan Lustre
Nurse in Dr. Mike’s office

 

You can photos of the witnesses from their websites, company sites, university sites, etc., but the most effective type of photo you can use is a photo snapped the same day the witness testifies, so their clothing and hairstyles look the same for the jurors.

Studies show that it’s easier to remember something when we both see it and hear it. By showing photos of the witness, you’ll spark the jurors’ memories of the witness while also highlighting the important parts of their testimony. By making it easier for your jurors to remember the highlights of your case, you’ll make it easier for them to return the verdict your client deserves.

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2 thoughts on “Help Jurors Remember Your Witnesses

  1. Very good article. Thank you.

    In the courts where I practice (Colorado state and federal courts), however, you could not take a picture of the witness while testifying.

    You could, obviously, still get their picture outside the courtroom, or something similar. You can also take their picture at their deposition.