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Demonstratives and Substantial Similarity - How APVisuals Can Help

December 7, 2018

Pursuant to the 1st DCA it is well known that "evidence is generally more effective than a description given by a witness, for it enables the jury, or the court, to see and thereby better understand the question or issue involved." Alston v. Shiver, 105 So. 2d 785, 791 (Fla. 1958). It is clear that in today's age video and visual evidence is king in the Courtroom. Conveying ideas and issues is better done by showing rather than telling your jury - i.e. its better to play a video deposition rather than reading the deposition transcript into the record. When jurors SEE the evidence for themselves they are creating their own memories, truths, and associations with the evidence.  Not only are you more likely to have them actively engaged as stakeholders but they will also simply retain more information since they are receiving the information through multiple sense.

 

With regards to demonstrative evidence and admissibility, we all know that trial court judges have broad discretion when determining whether demonstrative exhibits can even be presented to a jury.  See Chamberlain v. State, 881 So. 2d 1087, 1102 (Fla. 2004) (citing Harris v. State, 843 So. 2d 856, 863 (Fla. 2003)). Like any other issue that you may anticipate at trial, it is always best to have your arguments for allowing the introduction or the admissibility of your demonstrative exhibits ready. the problem is that most attorneys wait until the very last second to prepare their demonstratives and visual strategy.  Thus, leaving little time to prepare arguments. Our recommendation - Don't wait until the last minute to prepare your demonstratives. Exhibits need to be created, tested and amended.  In fact, many exhibits should be introduced at depositions in order to create a theme, continuity and deal with objections beforehand. A common issue that comes up when dealing with demonstratives (accident recreations, medical illustrations) is the doctrine of SUBSTANTIAL SIMILARITY.

 

The idea is basic - At attorney has to establish that the demonstrative that he/she intends to use is substantially similar to the object, accident, scene, etc. that is being shown.  So for example if you are trying to introduce a 3d animation of an accident, the animation has to be "substantially similar" to the witness' testimony that will be used to introduce it." Accordingly, APVisuals always recommends that these types of demonstratives like animation and medical illustrations should be done with time, they should not be done "last minute." This allows are graphic artists to speak with treating physicians when creating medical illustrations, read depositions and other discovery to create animations.  Time also allows us to create demonstratives and allow attorney to edit and adjust accordingly as they need to satisfy the doctrine of Substantial Similarity. 

 

APVisuals with is over 20+ years of creating, preparing, and drafting of demonstrative trial exhibits, has the knowledge and expertise to help you satisfy the threshold of substantial similarity when creating demonstrative exhibits for your case.  If you are headed to mediation or trial in the near future, just call us to discuss how we can help you. We look forward to working with you on your next case.

 

 

 


 

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