Exhibit A – Trial Presentation on the iPad
Having just spoken at the Kentucky Bar Association about the paradigm shift the iPad is creating, I am incredibly excited about the new version of Exhibit A. Up until now, most lawyers use programs like Sanction, Verdical, Trial Director, or Exhibit View to present exhibits at trial. This requires a laptop computer and normally someone to run the computer from counsel’s table while the attorney speaks. Such a setup hinders the flow of the lawyer’s presentation and creates ‘cross-talk’ between the lawyer and person running the computer as they try to highlight, callout or mark on the exhibit. The iPad changes this dynamic by allowing the lawyer to do all of these things him/herself. Granted, the trial presentation apps on the iPad do not offer all of the same “bells and whistles” the PC applications have, but when I speak to most other attorneys, they, like me, only use about 10% of what those programs costing thousands of dollars offer. For the most part, trial lawyers want to be able to search for an exhibit, highlight, draw on, zoom in and create a callout on an exhibit. Everything else is lagniappe as my dad would say.
There are a number of trial presentation apps in the App Store for the iPad which have all of those features but the one feature every trial lawyer needs – callouts. Callouts are those boxes which zoom in on a particular area of a document. We’ve shown you an early look at TrialPad 2.0 which has them (and we’ve spoken with the developer Ian who has advised us that 2.0 has been submitted to the App Store) but unfortunately Exhibit A has beaten every other app to the punch with the release of v.1.3.0. Among other things, the new version of Exhibit A has true callouts, block highlights, redaction features, exporting of exhibits via email and a completely new interface. Let’s take a look at these new features.
Let’s just get to the guts of this update. Without the ability to do a callout of a portion of an exhibit, trial presentations on the iPad weren’t truly competing with anyone except for themselves. Now that we finally have an app which can do it, others will follow suit out of necessity. To create a callout in Exhibit A, you simply open an exhibit and select the “Tools” button to select the callout icon on the far right. Creating the callout is as simple as sliding your finger from where you want the upper left side of the callout window to start and sliding to where you want it to end. If you’ve ever used a trial presentation program on a PC, it’s exactly the same except you use your finger or stylus instead of the mouse.
As you can see the callout is presented beautifully, with the underlying exhibit greyed-out and the callout contrasted against the background, perfectly sized.
While it is nicely displayed, I have a few issues with the callout feature which I am sure will be addressed in future updates. First, the annotations made on an exhibit do not get “called-out”. For example, if I create highlights, draw marks or other annotations on an exhibit, and then callout that area, those markings do not show up in the callout as you can see below.
his is the sort of thing that happens in early versions of software and is missed by programmers since they don’t typically foresee this sort of usage of a tool. While it may seem minor, this is certainly something which must be fixed before using Exhibit A in trial or a courtroom setting.
This feature is pretty straight-forward but seems to be ignored by some other developers. Many times it is necessary to highlight portions of an exhibit and so other apps allow this by giving you a free-hand highlighting tool, which Exhibit A also provides. However, when highlighting lines of text or entire paragraphs, using the free-hand tool is cumbersome and to be blunt, messy. The inability to create nice blocks of highlighted text is definitely an issue in other apps and so the inclusion of this in the latest version of Exhibit A is most welcome. My only complaint about this feature is not really about the feature but in the way highlights in general are created in Exhibit A as well as most other trial presentation apps save for TrialPad. Instead of creating a highlight which increases the contrast with the text below, Exhibit A merely places a semi-transparent block of yellow on top of the text, thereby making it difficult to read the text below and negating the point behind highlighting, to call attention to a part of an exhibit. I have provided examples below of highlighted text in Exhibit A and TrialPad to better visualize this oversight.
This works just like the block highlights, except allows the user to redact portions of an exhibit. For some reason developers keep putting this into their apps, probably because ‘redaction’ sounds like a legal term. In practicality, your exhibit should probably be redacted before trial using a desktop app. Regardless, it works as advertised, allowing for redacted areas to appear as either a block of white, black, red, green or blue. To use redaction, it is selected in the same tool area as highlighting. Problem, and this is a MAJOR one: when you redact an area, if you make a callout of it, the text below appears! Why? Because the callout feature does not callout annotations and the redaction tool is simply another annotation. This oversight makes the redaction feature incredibly dangerous and could potentially cause a mistrial. It must be fixed ASAP.