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Preparing a high-tech jury presentation once meant copying vital exhibits to transparencies for an overhead projector or to 35-millimeter film for a slide projector and playing an audio recording of a party’s words. Deposition transcripts were typed on hard-to-copy paper and marked in pen or pencil, and lots of paperclips marked passages that you intended to read to a witness if necessary to refresh his memory or to impeach his testimony. That was then, and it is wholly inadequate now. We like our deposition transcripts on disk, and high-tech requires at least a moderately priced computer that plugs into the built-in audio and video inputs of a modern courtroom or, in less well-provided surroundings, a portable sound system and a projector that takes a replica of a computer’s video display and enlarges it so that everyone in the courtroom can see it. Hardware, of course, is useless without software. We recently discussed Microsoft’s PowerPoint presentation manager and some third party add-ons that enable a lawyer or paralegal who knows the case but is not an accomplished programmer or graphics designer to add words, graphics, animations and sound to the presentation. Now we look at Sanction trial presentation software, a program that lets the user organize and mark files from a wide variety of sources. Sanction won’t read PowerPoint slides and can’t do some of the animation and special effects possible with PowerPoint. In fact, the developer suggests that Sanction can be run in tandem with PowerPoint, using each program to do that which it does best. INSTALLATION Sanction, Version 1.7 and a sample case — the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton — installed automatically to about 100 megabytes of hard-disk space. Sanction has a work mode for organizing and marking data and a second “presentation” mode that displays what the work mode has created. In addition, Sanction comes with a set of utilities that permit the user to deal with transcripts, coordinated video tapes and fact databases without having to move to the original files. Unlimited telephone customer support is free, but not toll-free, and is available weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Eastern time. Although Sanction comes with an online Window Help system, manual and introductory “tour” files and additional FAQs and other files on the vendor’s Web site, there are no printed manuals. We’re told this lack is intentional, in an effort to keep the product’s price as low as possible. We ended up printing some of the crucial pages, including explanations of the icons on the toolbars, so that we would have it instantly available as we were learning the program. WHAT SANCTION DOES Sanction collects text files, image files and video files into a database and permits the user to display specific parts of the loaded material with a few keystrokes. (We’re told that the program coordinates with bar-coded exhibits and a bar-code reader eliminates the need for keystrokes, but we did not test that feature.) The user begins with a data source such as a text file deposition transcript and a videotape of the deposition. If the files have been synchronized — an extra but necessary part of a video deposition’s cost — merely link the files through Sanction. If the files have not been synchronized, Sanction’s T-Stamp facility will enable you to do the job yourself. The process is both tedious and time-consuming — the user watches both transcript and video and hits the space bar as the video comes to the beginning of a line of transcript — but your staff can do the job in house and perhaps save much of the cost of an outside service bureau. Once the files are synchronized, a utility will let you mark and name a segment of a deposition either by marking the beginning and end of the segment as you watch it or by marking the begin and end lines of concern in the transcript. Thereafter, when you wish to display that particular segment or video clip, you need only select the segment by typing in the name or clicking on the file name in an Explorer-like file-tree display, and Sanction will display the video clip, document image or picture. Sanction uses Microsoft’s Windows Media Player and can, therefore, deal with any video format that can be read by the program. If you don’t have a copy on your computer, you can install the program from the Sanction CD-ROM. If you are currently processing documents with Summation, Doculex, Opticon or inData software, Sanction claims to read those, also. We are not clear whether Sanction will deal with value-added features from these programs, for example, with annotations and issue codes from Summation, but Sanction will let you annotate and highlight transcripts and images. Once a particular document or video segment has been marked, you can group that selection with others needed for a particular portion of the trial. For example, select the items you may need for the testimony of a particular witness by copying from the segment names by which the document is known to a folder for that witness. When you’re ready for the witness, simply expand the folder and all of your documents and video are immediately available for study or for presentation. CASE MANAGEMENT TO JURY PRESENTATION It was immediately obvious that Sanction would be useful for displaying important material to an audience, but it took some time working with the program before it became clear that it could also be used back in the office, to help an attorney prepare for trial. We assume that everything from the case — pleadings, depositions, documents, memoranda — will go into your Sanction database, so it will be there when needed as you develop the case. If you’re looking for a particular quote from a transcript, just search for it using Sanction’s search tool. If you want a particular video segment or document, you can search for it and the program will display it. Once it’s found, you can highlight, annotate, redact, number or perform whatever additional editing may be useful for your work. Other programs, Summation for one, can do much of that. But Sanction shines as it moves into presentation mode, where you can easily set up a series of relevant documents, video clips and such culled from the database, then call your selected documents and passages for display as needed. If you know that you will need a particular document or deposition video segment you can prepare a PowerPoint slide for that item, although we haven’t figured out how to synchronize transcript and video, if there is a way to do it. It seems a lot easier to identify and name the document or video clip and toss it into the witness folder. And if the need for a particular item becomes evident only during the course of the testimony, finding and naming the document or video segment can be accomplished very quickly, and easily prepared by the second or third chair, while lead counsel deals directly with the witness. CONSIDERATIONS Sanction costs $395 for a one-user license. The vendor is vague about how many licenses should be purchased if an attorney and secretary or paralegal will be alternatively using the program, but suggests that a second license is not required when you load the case you’ve been preparing on your desktop computer into the laptop for trial. Of course, most cases that call for a program like Sanction will have a team of paralegals working on documents and a presentation consultant — possibly an employee or contractor of the Sanction developer — will be happy to build the presentation to your order and run the computer during the trial. As easy as the Sanction may be to use in presentation mode, an attorney immersed in the details of the case, the testimony of the witness, and reactions of the judge and jury should not be concerned with running the computer, too. Altogether, Sanction seems to be a competent and reasonably priced program that will enable a lawyer to identify, annotate and mark significant material for display at trial. If you are still using an overhead projector or 35-millimeter slides, it is time for an upgrade. SUMMARY Sanction makes it easy to display text, graphics, sound and video to a jury or to track all of that information when preparing for trial. Most lead trial attorneys won’t want to get into the nuts and bolts of working with the program and will leave a lot of the work to the second chair, a paralegal or even a trial presentation expert, but with some practice it shouldn’t be too difficult for a moderately experience lawyer-computer user to use. Sanction Trial Presentation Software. Price: $395, requires IBM PC or compatible running Pentium II or better, Microsoft Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0. Verdict Systems. 1400 E. Southern Ave., Tempe, Ariz. 85282. Phone: 480-627-2430. Fax: 480-627-2431. Web: www.verdictsystems.com. E-mail: [email protected]. Barry D. Bayer practices law and writes about computers from his office in Homewood, Ill. You may send comments or questions to his new e-mail address [email protected]or write c/oLaw Office Technology Review , P.O. Box 2577, Homewood, Ill. 60430.

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