Trial Graphics: Visualizing a Juror-Familiar Context to Convey Arcane Concepts & Data

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” proclaimed Neil Armstrong as he became the first human to walk on the earth’s moon. Neil travelled 240,000 miles to then step out onto the lunar surface and take a short lunar hike. But how far did he walk? How do we understand the scope of his achievement? Though we all saw the images of Neil’s moonwalk, viewer orientation was poor.

But thanks to the smart (and fun) spatial-comparative graphic made by John Mark Boling of the US Geological Survey Department, Neil Armstrong’s (and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s) range of lunar-pedestrian traipsing can be quickly understood by the general viewer. Mr. Boling layered a typical baseball field, to scale, beneath a mapping of Armstrong and Aldrin’s landing site for viewer-familiar orientation.

Moonwalk_Baseball It’s an “ah-hah!” moment.

The beauty of this graphic is in its conveyance of significant factors with simple immediacy of recognition, where otherwise seeing only a moonscape would leave the viewer with no means nor markers from which to understand scope, scale and distance … data “lost in (unfamiliar) space”.

Equally so, trial and ADR demonstratives need to bring argument points and data into the realm of the familiar for the viewer. By providing a juror-familiar context, trial demonstratives can help clearly communicate arcane concepts or complex sets of data critical for informed decision-making.

In one case, our client, seeking approvals for their development, were initially tasked by the local municipality to build the water run-off management system for the immediate development area. As negotiations continued, that municipality vastly increased the area for which the developer was tasked to accommodate, exponentially increasing costs.

Imagine trying to orally convey water volume information to a jury, even with the help (or complication) of the expert’s tables of data. The significance of the total acreage + water run-off volume information would be lost on most jurors without this visual rendering.

HeidiCase Watershed Slide This interactive demonstrative effectively converted that expert data of increasing, mountainous acreage and accumulating water run-off to a topographical 3D map model, functionally able to tilt, rotate and change perspective, allowing the jury compelling views of the magnitude of the extensive terrain and communities for which our clients were being solely burdened to provide infrastructure. The familiar context here for the juror is the tangible physicality of the geography, terrain and spatial dimensions, as opposed to a juror mentally trying to translate data tables, graphs and numbers into meaningful comprehension.

In an insurance/contract matter, our client discovered that the entrusted recording of acquired development property had been erroneously executed, omitting roughly one half of that property. Not recorded and with no endorsements executed meant no insurance coverage for the subject lots. The resultant risk to our client was communicated to the jury spatially/graphically, to better convey the tract-map-3 framegravity of the problem in more tangible, physical terms. A vertical timeline on the right stepped through the events as the correlating consequences evolved visually on the aerial image. Besides graphically conveying the issue in a juror-impactful context, cause-and-effect is revealed between that graphic and the unfolding timeline events.

Going in the other direction of scale, the microscopic (or unseen) world presents challenges to juror understanding as well. For a past IP matter, an important question that needed to be answered was, “compared to what?” Scale and spatial comparisons help provide convincing, familiar context from which the juror can better apprehend the complex technology & accompanying issues, relative to his or her known world, and thereby help guide that juror to contextually informed decisions.

TransistorSize_Synopsys Here, the industry was microchip development. Understanding how micro is a transistor allowed jurors to better grasp the engineering solutions at issue. This screen grab from our animation revealed that transistors today are a fraction of the width of a human hair or red blood cell. Something most of us, not “skilled in the art”, do not empirically grasp.

Like the diagram of the moonwalk across a baseball field, these trial demonstrative examples provide viewer-familiar visual context for scale, comparison and scope – where without, the juror’s path to making an informed decision could be as tenuous as that first walk on the moon.