Windows Media Player. Windows Media Player is great in trials.
It is simple to use and has the added benefit of built-in closed
captioning functionality, which can be used to show text from
a synchronized deposition. But how does a user play specific
portions of the video while avoiding the imprecision of the
scrollbar? There are several ways to address this problem.
The first is to bookmark the video. WMP has a plug-in tool
that allows one bookmark per video. But one bookmark is
rarely enough. Other readily-available media players address
this problem by allowing multiple bookmarks.
A better option is to edit the video into separate clips. There
are a number of editing programs, from simple freeware to
advanced (and expensive) soft ware suites.
Additionally, many court reporters provide a viewer free
of charge with their deposition video DVDs. One of the more
prevalent ones is from YesLaw. It helps the user highlight
deposition text and export the video of that portion to an individual clip. For a user with little to no editing experience and
little to no time to learn new software, this is a very easy and
The benefit of using edited video in WMP is the user is guaranteed to play only the portion edited into the clip. One hur-
dle is finding the time to make the various clips in advance and
a second is how to react if the court excludes or expands portions of the deposition that are in the edited clips. Of course,
those problems are exactly why the more advanced trial presentation soft ware exists.
On a recent flight I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In
one chapter he discusses the factors that lead to an airplane
crash. In almost every instance it is the combination of a series
of small problems — none sufficient on its own to cause serious trouble — that results in the plane and the ground having
an untimely meeting.
My first thought was “This is terrible airplane reading mate-
rial!” My second was “This is exactly what happens when an
inexperienced legal assistant tries to learn trial presentation
soft ware in a day or t wo!”
So, if you are going to trial tomorrow and don’t already
know how to use trial presentation software, stick with soft-
ware you do know: Adobe Acrobat and Windows Media Player.
John Cleaves is supervisor of trial technology consulting at Latham & Watkins, based in Los Angeles. Email: John.