Archive for : February, 2015

Timelines (Part 3)

Timelines have proven to be an instrumental tool in conveying complex information formatted to be easily digestible and understandable. In this series, we look at how timelines are designed and developed for use in the courtroom, in mediation, and/or during the discovery process.

 

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Process to Complete a Timeline

When our phone rings and one of our clients is needing a timeline on a case, typically, it is during preparations for trial. We end up preparing a timeline for the facts witnesses to refer to. Or it’s one that’s prepared in conjunction with one or more of the experts.

Seeing the Facts Clearly

Commonly, the timeline is used in the opening, in order for the jury to get a global perspective on the case, and what the key evidence is proving in terms of answering critical questions about who may be responsible and for how much.

That’s, of course, when use of certain demonstrative aides has been agreed to.

Preparing Timelines During Discovery

In many cases, timelines are developed during discovery and used by witnesses giving their depositions, especially in situations where that witness may not be available “live” at trial, and the deposition is being taken by video for playback to the jury. When taking this approach, your goal is always not to put jurors to sleep by presenting an edited video that keeps their attention.

Testing with Focus Groups

Additionally, preparing a timeline early allows the trial lawyer an opportunity to test it in front any focus groups that might be conducted during the preparation and evaluation of the case.

Timelines (Part 2)

Timelines have proven to be an instrumental tool in conveying complex information formatted to be easily digestible and understandable. In this series, we look at how timelines are designed and developed for use in the courtroom, in mediation, and/or during the discovery process.

Establishing a Time Frame

Each timeline covers a certain period of time, whether a few seconds or decades. Often, an overview timeline of the key themes of a case is produced. Imbedded within that, are timelines that focus on more specific time frames or subject areas.

Develop Outline of Major Themes

As with any demonstrative exhibit, the timeline is designed to assist the jury with forming clear conclusions about what the evidence shows. Typically, even the largest of cases boil down to settling a few key issues, relating to liability, causation and damages.

From the onset of the case and as discovery unfolds, an outline of these key themes is helpful. Individual themes flow from one to another, and each are summarized in three sentences or less.

Organize Key Evidence

As you pull key evidence out of the case, it is organized under each of the key themes. Once it is summarized and visualized on the timeline, an overview emerges of what the preponderance of the evidence proves.

Weight of the evidence is just that, as much as is available, but succinctly presented.

Timeline Elements Broken Down

Of course, timelines contain time increments, whether seconds, hours, days, years or decades. Then, key evidence is added. It appears as highlights of key documents, quotes of critical testimony, photos or videos of credible physical evidence and graphics relating to key data or expert reconstructions.