THE BLOG

Skype Type Stuff at Trial and Beyond: Be Prepared

07/06/2013 05:36 pm ET | Updated Sep 04, 2013
  • Scott B. Piekarsky Active litigator, lecturer and writer on ethics and trial practice topics

I read with amazement today about the Skype caper at the Zimmerman trial in Florida. Pretty juicy -- no sorry that's my morning Florida OJ I am thinking about here while I type about Skype. I guess not quite the nonfitting glove at the other OJ trial years ago. Well the concept of being able to accommodate a witness this way and still proceed with the trial is pretty nice. Aside from the absolute need to have some rules about how, why and when you can do this, what about all the technical and operational stuff? Thank goodness nothing really horrendous and damaging came across the screen causing the case to be mistried. Having reviewed the video of the ordeal, it looked like no one really knew what they were doing. Reviewing some online comments of the many pundits, it is rather clear that the problematic and possibly intentional pop-ups could have been avoided through the proper use of Skype. In addition, Google and others have even better tools to accomplish such a task.

More important than what program or site to use is the issue of expertise and preparedness. I will say it over and over again -- hire your kid, your kid's friend or some other young person, student, etc. My wife has coined it best, some of us may have been born with a chip on our shoulders but our kids were born with chips in their heads. Many years ago when I taught ethics to newly admitted attorneys, the program format was changed and I was told I had to give a Powerpoint presentation. After the same was explained to me, I then asked about where do get this software and how do I learn to use it. I came home that night flustered but thankfully to be greeted by my then-8-year-old on the computer who immediately showed me how to do it.They just learned how to use it in elementary school. Since then I frequently tap both of my now college-aged daughters to assist me with such technology challenges that come up.

Just like a surgeon having an assistant, best practices here would dictate having another set of eyes and ears but more importantly a technical assistant. There are plenty of college graduates not working who are tech savvy, so hire one of them.

Sometimes this stuff can actually be hilarious. Many years ago, my buddy and I attended an amazing trial practice seminar in Phili. Two big name guys came to town to teach young lawyers how to try cases. One of the speakers was wearing a wireless microphone.The two men danced around the stage lecture with music and video. Pretty impressive for the late eighties. One of the speakers eased off the stage through the rear curtain so he could relieve himself.Unfortunately,he forgot to shut off his microphone and while his cohort continued we were also able to attest to the fact he really had drank too much water. May chuckles were exchanged and what an embarrassing moment for still today one of the leading trial skill lecturers in the country.

Whether your gig is a trial, a presentation, a performance, preparation will be necessary. However, when it comes to the technical stuff, be very prepared. Don't be shy, don't be cheap, get some help and hey -- hire your kid or your kid's friends or some nice college students or grads who know this stuff cold and will not cost you a bundle.

YOU MAY LIKE