JB StraightTalk Blog

The Effective Use of PowerPoint Presentations in Jury Trials

April 4, 2017, was an important day for trial attorneys . . . for attorneys who do jury trials.  On that day, the Court of Appeals issued two decisions in criminal cases which addressed the use of Power-Point by attorneys during closings/summations.  In today’s technological age, in the opinion of Jackson Bergman Law, the effective and proper representation of clients at felony, misdemeanor, and DWI trials many times requires the defense attorney to use Power-Point.  Unfortunately, there are attorneys that do not know how to use Power-Point and there are those whom use it by ineffectively just filling it with a lot of boring and unpersuasive text. 

At Jackson Bergman Law, we have constructed and used Power-Point closings/summations in cases where clients were charged with murder, attempted murder, assault, arson, DWI, etcetera.  Most recently, a Power-Point closing/summation was constructed and utilized by Benjamin K. Bergman, Esq., a partner at Jackson Bergman Law, in the case of People v. Jason Stokes.  Mr. Stokes was charged with Arson in the Second Degree, a very serious felony charge.  Mr. Bergman advanced one of the most aggressive, persuasive, powerful, and effective Power-Point closings/summations ever used in Broome County Court.  The aggressive representation of Jackson Bergman Law coupled with the use of Power-Point led to a verdict of “Not Guilty” – Mr. Stokes was acquitted of the felony he was accused of. 

The issue of whether Power-Point can be utilized by trial attorneys during summations/closing arguments had never been directly addressed by the Court of Appeals . . . until April 4, 2017.  On that day, in People v. Williams, 29 N.Y.3d 84 (2017), the Court of Appeals held, in relevant part, “[t]here is no inherent problem with the use of a PowerPoint presentation as a visual aid in connection with closing arguments.”  The persuasive use of a Power-Point summation/closing argument can be enhanced by the proper use of captions, text, markings, and animation.  Also on April 4, 2017, the Court of Appeals issued a second decision in a criminal case addressing the use of captions and markings.  In People v. Anderson, 29 N.Y.3d 69 (2017), the Court of Appeals directly stated that Power-Point presentations “may properly be used in summation where [] [] the added captions or markings are consistent with the trial evidence and the fair inferences to be drawn from the evidence.” 

Mr. Bergman is one of the most, if not the most, knowledgeable, effective, and proficient trial attorneys in the Binghamton (and Broome County) area that uses Power-Point summations/closing arguments.  He has utilized Power-Point as a former prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney.  Mr. Bergman has utilized Power-Point summations/closing arguments in many high publicity/high profile felony trials.  Mr. Bergman has taken to trial felony arson cases as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.  All of those arson trials were based upon circumstantial evidence.  He used a Power-Point  summation/closing argument in each and every one of those felony arson trials . . . and he won ALL of those trials. 

Past results, of course, cannot act as a guarantee of future results.  Mr. Bergman’s use of Power-Point presentations has caught the eye of the legal community as evidenced by the fact that in 2016 and 2017 he presented at Continuing Legal Education programs (for attorneys) where he instructed on the importance and effective use of Power-Point in representing clients.