Judge's Corner

Article Index

Judicial Challenges The Honorable Janet Stauffer, 7th Judicial Circuit (August/September 2017)

Use of Fictitious Names for Parties in Civil Litigation in Oregon The Honorable James Hargreaves (Senior Judge, retired), Lane County Circuit Court (June/July 2017)

The Judge's Pledge The Honorable Susan Tripp, Marion County Circuit Court (May/June 2017)

Organizing for the Courtroom The Honorable Daniel R. Murphy, Linn County Circuit Court (March/April 2017)

A Two Year Journey with Odyssey in Juvenile Court The Honorable Lindsay Partridge, Marion County Circuit Court (January/February 2017)

Lane County Streamlined Jury Trial Project The Honorable Curtis Conover, Lane County Circuit Court (November/December 2016)

20 Ways to Further Justice The Honorable Ilisa Rooke-Ley, Lane County Circuit Court (October/November 2016)

Managing Multi-Party/Complex Litigation without Driving Your Judge Crazy (and maybe even making it easier for everyone) The Honorable Henry Kantor, Multnomah County Circuit Court (September 2016)

Managing Multi-Party/Complex Litigation without Driving the Judge's Staff Crazy The Honorable Eve L. Miller, Clackamas County Circuit Court (August 2016)

Do's and Don'ts in the Courtroom The Honorable Lisa Greif, Jackson County Circuit Court (June/July 2016)

Preparation for a Status, Case Management, or Pretrial conference - or how to get more out of a non-evidentiary proceeding in criminal and family court cases The Honorable Kirsten E. Thompson, Washington County Circuit Court (April/May 2016)

Postponements The Honorable Richard Barron, Presiding Judge, Coos/Curry County Circuit Court (March 2016)

Consider Trying More Cases The Honorable Suzanne Chanti, Lane County Circuit Court Judge (February 2016)

Professionalism - It Counts Both In and Out of the Courtroom The Honorable Brian Dretke, Union County Circuit Court Judge (January 2016)

Changes to Sex Changes The Honorable Beth A. Allen, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge (December 2015)

Top 25 Tips from a Senior Judge The Honorable Michael C. Sullivan, Senior Judge (retired), Deschutes County (November 2015)

How to Succeed at Power Point In the Courtroom The Honorable Michael McShane, US District Court (October 2015)

Effective Use of Evidence At Jury Trial The Honorable Matthew Donohue, Benton County Circuit Court (September 2015)

Making a Record for Appeal, The Honorable Charles M. Zennaché, Lane County Circuit Court (August 2015)

Access to Civil Justice in Oregon's State Courts, The Honorable David Brewer, Associate Justice, Oregon Supreme Court (July 2016)

What Jurors Want: A Look Into the Minds of Jurors, The Honorable John V. Acosta, United States Magistrate Judge (June 2015)

Handling the "Half-se" Hearing, The Honorable Mustafa Kasubhai, Lane County Circuit Court (May 2015)

Effective Voir Dire, Judge Thomas Hart, Marion County Circuit Court (April 2015)

The New Judge on the Block, Judge Lung S. Hung, Malheur County Circuit Court (March 2015)

The Gift of Finality: One PJ's Perspective, Judge Karsten H. Rasmussen, Lane County Circuit Court (February 2015)

ORCP 68 Attorney Fees - when, why and how to seek them, Judge Deanne L. Darling, Clackamas Juvenile Court (January 2015)

Difficult questions must be answered before they are asked, Judge Edward J. Jones, Multnomah County Circuit Court (December 2014)

Judicially Hosted Settlement Conferences, Judge Jamese L. Rhoades and Sr. Judge Don Dickey, Marion County Circuit Court (November 2014)

Working together to make discovery more efficient, The Honorable Youlee Yim You, Multnomah County Circuit Court (October 2014)

Court Trials - A Jury of One, The Honorable Katherine E. Tennyson, Multnomah County Circuit Court (September 2014)

Making the Most of Short Evidentiary Hearings, The Honorable Daniel R. Murphy, Linn County Circuit Court (August 2014)

Vouching, The Honorable Jay McAlpin, Lane County Circuit Court (July 2014)

Appropriate Jury Instructions Can Help Litigators Win Trials, The Honorable Paula Brownhill, Clatsop County Circuit Court (June 2014)

Evidentiary Hearings and Motion Practice in the era of Oregon e-court, The Honorable Benjamin Bloom, Jackson County Circuit Court (May 2014)

Motions in Limine - Tips for "Newer" Litigators, The Honorable Jodie Mooney, Lane County Circuit Court (April 2014)

The Honorable Michael McShane
US District Court
(October 2015)

How to Succeed at Power Point In the Courtroom

1. Use PowerPoint as a crutch.

Let's face it; there is nothing worse than public speaking. Public speaking requires you to prepare and remember your remarks and you are expected to present them in an organized manner. And if your public self is one prone to incoherent mumbling at a volume level that can only be heard by those sitting in the front row (nobody sits in the front row), how will your audience ever know what you are talking about?

PowerPoint fixes all of this. By simply dividing your speech into little blocks called "bullet points, you are able to talk as if your mouth is full of marbles. If you get nervous and lose your train of thought, thankfully it is all organized on a giant screen right in front of everyone. All of your faults as a public speaker are forgiven by using PowerPoint. How can it possibly be any different in front of a jury?

2. Assume that your audience expects a PowerPoint.

Why be a boring storyteller when you can wow the jury with a visual extravaganza that erupts with every sentence that comes out of your mouth. Every juror under the age of ninety expects you to use technology in a speech in today's modern world. Storytelling is for lame kids sitting around a campfire, people with imagination, and Homer (the Greek Homer; not the one from Springfield).

It's so like yesterday.
It's so like... Greek.

3. Animate the hell out of every slide.

When I am giving a closing argument and I'm focusing on a particular jury instruction, I don't want to just show the jury the instruction on a slide, I want it to come to life like Frankenstein from the grave before their horror-struck eyes. It will bounce, it will cartwheel, and it will vaporize into smoke for 15 seconds until it appears before them on the screen with flashes of lightening.

4. Assume you will figure out the technology in the courtroom when you get there.

Nothing impresses the jury as much as watching you rummage through your briefcase for a HDMI cord because you assumed there would be one in the courthouse. Despite the reduction in court personnel over the last decade, you can be confident that there will be an IT expert waiting expectantly in the back of the courtroom to assist you with your every need. And please wait until the beginning of your opening statement to set up your projector...

  • on the table that is nowhere to be found
  • with an extension cord that is two feet short of an outlet
  • that is to project on a screen that invariably cannot be seen by half the jury

We have all the time in the world. Watching you crawl under the table to find that outlet might be the most interesting part of your presentation.

5. Do not sterilize your laptop's desktop screensaver.

If you have cute children, why shouldn't the jury get to see them as a screensaver or as the background to your desktop? If you don't have cute children, then just find some pictures on the internet of cute children or maybe a kitten or a puppy. Jurors just love cute things and, as such, they can only love you. Accidents happen; they will not assume that this is a tasteless ploy at using your children and pets as emotional hostages.

It also helps to leave files with subliminal messages scattered across your desktop. For instance, if you are a DA trying a shoplifting case, increase your gravitas by having a visible file titled "rapist.pervert. It makes you look serious.

If you are a public defender and you have no case, then I would suggest a file entitled "jury/nullification/hail.mary.

6. Compete with your PowerPoint slides.

Put up slides that require intense concentration on the part of the jury. I recommend a slide that requires the jury to take a survey of at least twenty questions. While this is going on, see if you are the kind of speaker that can command what normally would be the jurors' divided attention. Begin the slide by saying, "I now want to focus on the pivotal issue of the case.

7. Keep a slide up at all times.

This is a very effective tool that is appreciated by the jury. When you are talking about the importance of circumstantial evidence, by all means leave up the slide of the severed head you referenced three hours ago. The longer that slide remains up, the more the jury stays focused on what you have to say.

They will not hate you for ruining their lunch.

8. Do not allow opposing counsel to preview your slides.

PowerPoints are fun because nobody knows what is coming next. They are like birthday presents and everyone likes to be surprised on their birthday. Why should opposing counsel and the judge be any different? After all, PowerPoint slides aren't evidence. Who could possible object? See State v Reineke, 473 OrApp 299 (2014).

9. Keep the jury focused on the screen.

Having the jury focus on the screen rather than you is the sure way to cover up both your shortcomings as a speaker and any pesky hygiene issues you might be worried about. You don't like to shave or wear matching socks... no problem. Nobody is looking at you. You are clutching the podium with rock climbing strength and pouring out enough sweat from your drenched armpits to fill a California reservoir. Clutch and sweat all you want because it's all about the slides.

10. Weed out the elderly, the disabled, the easily distracted, the culturally sensitive, and anyone who does not share your political humor.

You are sophisticated and quirky so reflect that in your slides. They should be presented in such a way that only prep school elites with the eyesight of a raptor and the vocabulary of Charles Dickens will understand. Use small print (times new Roman only). Use grayscale in such a way that the contrast between words and background is lost because this is the way Stanley Kubrick would have done it. Use obscure quotes by French existentialists and recite them with a wry sense of weltschmerz as you look wistfully out the window at the falling leaves.

And yes, by all means, display at least four passages from Kafka before ending with a picture of a single black bird set off against a field of rye.

We get you. We really do.

 

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