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How To Best Capture and Recreate the Accident for the Jury/Court

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

accident-reconstruction-1024x768 How To Best Capture and Recreate the Accident for the Jury/Court

After producing several accident reconstruction videos in my career as a video forensic expert, I have made observations about what works when we recreate the accident in video form for court. I would like to share some tips with you so that you can avoid problems and best capture your external environment and bring it in to court.

Accident reconstruction video brings the accident site into the courtroom so the jury can see what the site looks like and how the accident occurred. Here are four tips to help you bring the best video into the courtroom:

1)      Try not to add demonstrative features to your video, like graphics or animation, without a reference point or an accurate scale. These demonstrative characteristics—especially animation—diminish the authenticity of the video footage.

2)      Shoot both wide shots and tight shots of the scene. When designing your shot sheet, make sure to include every angle and perspective so the judge and jury feel like they were actually there and actually witnessed the accident.

3)      Always record more footage than you will need for your accident recreation video presentation.

4)      Keep original source files with all original footage on them so the opposing counsel can examine and authenticate them.

I have had cases where the opposing counsel had video recorded that was not used in the accident reconstruction video on DVD. When the missing footage was discovered, it was detrimental to their case. In this situation, the accident reconstruction video worked against the opposing counsel.

3 Tips for Preparing Video Evidence for Court

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

courtroom-1024x682 3 Tips for Preparing Video Evidence for CourtOver the last 28 years I have worked on many video forensic cases as a video forensic expert. This blog post is about the top three things I have learned and want to share with you about preparing your video evidence for use in court.
Number one: document and maintain a chain of custody on the video evidence.  Too often there is no chain of custody maintained on video evidence. The lack of a chain of custody makes it hard for all parties in any litigation to understand the purpose and authenticity of the video evidence.

Number two: always use the original digital video file for any litigation. If you are not sure if it’s the original or if you believe it has been altered, then it is not considered the original and you must go back to the source that recorded the footage in order to confirm.  Bottom line: if both parties in the litigation agree on the video evidence and consider it original, you are okay.  Only when there is a disagreement should you go back to the recording source and compare that recording to the video evidence.

Number three: make sure your video plays on the equipment that is used in the court. Many attorneys will enter a court room with a piece of video evidence and not realize that the court is not equipped to play the type of digital video file that the evidence has been presented in. It never hurts to rehearse your presentation of the video evidence before it is finally presented in court. Will the jury be able to hear the audio?  Do you need a PA speaker and amplifier to make the audio louder for everyone in court to hear?

There are many other factors to consider when using your video evidence in litigation, but these are the top three in my opinion.  Ask a video forensic expert for help because your evidence can be removed from your case if it is not prepared and presented properly or if there is doubt on the authenticity.

photo credit: St Georges Hall Court Room via photopin (license)

Video Forensic Expert Edward J Primeau Curriculum Vitae

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