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On cross-examination in a Los Angeles courtroom last month, a defendant swore he didn’t sign a commission contract on behalf of Crescent Heights Acquisitions Inc., the nation’s largest condominium converter. But moments later, jurors watched a clip of him in deposition saying he did. That and other bits of high-tech show-and-tell were “devastating,” exults litigator Bernard M. Resser. He represented real estate broker Ely Dromy in an underdog lawsuit which alleged that the buyer and the seller of a luxury project in Marina del Rey, Calif., denied Dromy his commission. On March 21, a jury awarded Dromy $1.3 million. Resser’s nine-lawyer boutique — Berman, Mausner & Resser — videotapes all trial depositions in-house. Choice snippets are digitized by an outside company and loaded onto a computer with software (TrialPro 2) that lets a lawyer project the clips onto a screen by running a special pen across a bar code. The hardest part, said Resser, is tailoring the deposition to yield useable clips. “You have to ask the right question in the right tone,” he noted. “If you’re using a nice pleasant voice with the jury, you can’t sound obnoxious at the depo.” On the losing side was Lawrence Teplin, the head of Cox, Castle & Nicholson’s litigation department. He maintains that post-verdict interviews with jurors indicated they found the technique “entertaining” but were divided over how persuasive it was. Like most big firms, Cox Castle doesn’t regularly videotape depositions. And, no, Teplin said, the Dromy case won’t alter the firm’s standard operating procedure. IS THE ‘JURYSMART?’ It’s icourthouse’s turn to answer the Big Question of online entrepreneurship. Eighteen months and 500 cases ago, two lawyers from the San Francisco East Bay community of Lafayette, Calif., Clyde and Claudia Long, started what they call the “Internet’s courthouse.” The idea was to give litigants an alternative forum for resolving disputes, using volunteer jurors. (Clyde Long said they now have 20,000 virtual jurors.) In January, they started the revenue-producing part of the venture — Jury-Smart — which for $189 lets lawyers have more interaction with the jurors. A more elaborate package in the $500 range is due this summer. By allowing lawyers to choose jurors from, say, a particular state and to conduct voir dire, the service aims to approximate many of the benefits previously available only to those who pay thousands of dollars for in-house focus groups and shadow juries. It should be a boon in assessing cases with a potential value of less than a million dollars, Clyde Long said. Further, he adds, “I’ve been a litigator in a big firm and in solo practice, and I know one thing the typical lawyer in a small practice misses is a chance to walk down the hall and roll out a case for colleagues. This gives him or her that benefit.”

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