Recently, Los Angeles based trial tech Ted Brooks wrote a tech tip in his blog about applying electronic exhibit stickers. Coincidentally, we published a blog post on the same day, covering a similar topic. Since our post we’ve received a lot of feedback from our users about exhibit stickers so I thought we could take this opportunity to dive in a little deeper, and address some common misconceptions, such as the belief that assigning exhibit stickers has to be complicated.
Let’s start by saying that there are a lot of areas in which we at LIT SOFTWARE agree with Mr. Brooks. Electronic exhibit stickers are an excellent option for pre-marking exhibits. As he points out, they make exhibit admission in court much smoother, they save time and energy affixing the peel-and-stick exhibit stickers (that inconveniently expand the bottom right corner of an exhibit binder), and documents with electronic exhibit stickers can be distributed and printed multiple times with the same sticker.
But this is where we diverge. We don’t think that TrialDirector, the PC desktop program mentioned, is one of the best or easiest methods to apply exhibit stickers. It may be the 800-pound gorilla of trial presentation, but the user interface to apply exhibit stickers is unnecessarily complicated, and the user experience can be unintuitive and confusing. With TrialPad the process of applying exhibit stickers is straightforward and intuitive, and the resulting image is sharp and professional. Simply tap in the various fields and start typing, there’s no right-clicking or selecting tools. Here is a comparison of the process of assigning exhibit stickers, TrialDirector v. TrialPad (tap on any image to enlarge):
TrialDirector - Step 1: Click on the Annotation Tool button to reveal the Annotation Tools, click on the Label tool dropdown, and click on Design Labels.
TrialPad - Step 1: Press-and-hold on any document and tap on Assign Exhibit Sticker.
TrialDirector - Step 2: In the Design Labels dialog, enter your data into the various fields, press the appropriate buttons, click on Create Label, then click on Save & Exit.
TrialPad - Step 2: Tap and type your exhibit information directly onto the exhibit sticker. When finished tap on Apply. You're done!
TrialDirector - Step 3: After designing the exhibit sticker, click on the document you want to apply the sticker to, click on the Label tool dropdown, click on the sticker you just designed, enter the exhibit number in the resulting dialog box, click OK, then click on the position where you want to place the sticker.
To Reposition the Sticker: Click on the Annotation Selector tool, click on the exhibit sticker, move it to the new location, and remember to click on Save markups on current page button.
TrialPad - You're Already Done: Finished exhibit stickers are crisp, professional, and easy to read.
To Reposition the Sticker: Press-and-hold on any document, tap on Modify Exhibit Sticker, choose a new position, tap on Apply.
TrialPad can also apply exhibit stickers to multiple documents at once, with auto incrementing numbers. Just tap on Select > Select All > Edit, then tap on Assign Exhibit Sticker. Enter the starting number (or letter) and tap on Apply. In this example a white exhibit sticker is going to be sequentially applied to the bottom right corner to all of the 218 selected documents, starting with 0001.
If you’ve named your documents by exhibit number (e.g. 1234) you can automatically use the document name as the exhibit number. Again, tap on Select > Select All > Edit, then tap on Assign Exhibit Sticker. This time choose the “#FileName” option that pops up for the exhibit number, then tap on Apply. The file name is inserted in the exhibit number field for all 218 exhibits in one tap.
With TrialPad you can easily apply exhibit stickers to hundreds of documents in just a few seconds, as opposed to having to click on each document with your mouse to apply each sticker, and then go through a second time-consuming process just to assign the numbers.
Speaking of sequence, besides being able to automatically increment numbers, TrialPad can also automatically increment letters (some judges ask one side to use numbers, and the other side to use letters for their exhibits). The problem with letters is that many people apply letter sequences with the letters going from A through Z; then AA, BB, CC through ZZ; then AAA, BBB, CCC through ZZZ; and so on. This method catches out a lot of people in the stress of pre-trial preparation! If you assign letters this way you will end up trying to admit, and the jury will have to write down, “Exhibit ZZZZZZ” for only the 156th exhibit (talk about putting them to sleep!). TrialPad automates this for you: it correctly assigns letters A through Z for the first 26 exhibits, then for the 27th exhibit onwards will assign AA, AB, AC through AZ; then BA, BB, BC through BZ; then CA, CB, CC through CZ; and so on. This way of assigning letters means you can have over 700 exhibits before you’ll even need to go to three letters (AAA).
TrialPad can automatically generate exhibits by letter as well as by number.
As you view the documents, if you discover that some text is covered by a sticker, or you want to change the color of the exhibit sticker, just press-and-hold on the document and tap on Modify Exhibit Sticker. This can even be done on the fly as you’re presenting! And there’s no need to save your changes, TrialPad automatically does that for you. But what if the Court comes back and changes the whole exhibit numbering sequence right before trial? Easy, just select all the documents, select Modify Exhibit Sticker again, and give the documents a new starting number.
Because TrialPad works with the concept of cases to organize your evidence, just as you do, TrialPad remembers the fields used in the exhibit sticker fields for each case so you don't have to retype redundant information (e.g. “Smith v. Jones” and “Case No. 123-456-789” will always be prepopulated on the exhibit sticker for the Smith case), and TrialPad is also smart enough to pre-populate the next exhibit number in sequence, so you don't need to remember that the last exhibit number used was 456, it will automatically suggest 457 as the next exhibit number.
Applying exhibit stickers should be a simple, easy, quick process, and not cause any pain or cause you to waste time that you could spend preparing for your opening statement or witness examinations.
Some of the other advantages of using TrialPad: you are in control; you can check and reorder documents even while sitting at counsel table waiting to re-direct your witness; you don't need to call out exhibit numbers in trial as you can see the preview on your iPad; and you don't have to rely on someone else to remember that the Contract is Exhibit 123, or vice versa.
TrialPad – designed to help you win! Download it now, and be prepared in court this fall.