Over the summer I interned at the Wake County Public Defender's office. I developed a bit of an expertise in working with Electronically Stored Information ("ESI"). Those of you in the law know that ESI is a tremendous part of any type of litigation--both civil and criminal. Working on this case, I knew we would need to present portions of some very busy, confusing, complex documents to a jury. When a document is busy, the extraneous information can confuse a jury and the point being made can be lost.
Typically, attorneys and other presenters solve this problem by simply taking out a pen and highlighting the important parts of the document. This old school method works, but I wondered if there was a more persuasive way to accomplish the same goal. As the standard in culture is raised, the standard is also raised in the courtroom. I began to think of potential ways to present this information, without distorting the document, in a way that would be inherently persuasive. The question is this: in our modern, media saturated culture, what are some of the most persuasive ways that content is presented?
The Netflix Documentary has taken an iconic place in modern media consumption. Perhaps the most famous, Making a Murderer, established the style. Documentaries use a lot of official documents, audio recordings, and similar materials that would likely find their way into a courtroom. They present these documents using clean, inherently persuasive techniques. One of the most useful is low-lighting a document and allowing the important material to stand out clearly. You can see my resume below as and example. I also made a short video showing how the edit can be created!