join now
advertise with us ABA Journal Blawg 100 Award 2009 ABA Journal Blawg 100 Award 2008
Subscribe (RSS Feed)TechnoLawyer Feed

Tip: Using Bar Codes with Your Trial Presentations

By Sara Skiff | Monday, October 30, 2006

Daniel A. Mengeling, Tip: Using Bar Codes with Your Trial Presentations

TechnoLawyer member Marc B. Hankin asks:
"I saw a trial lawyer flipping through pages in a 3 ring binder to find a document he wanted.  When he found the document image, he swiped the light pen over a bar code next to the image, and the related Acrobat file went up on a screen.   Does anyone know where I could find a program that does that?"

The type of bar code you are talking about is placed on documents by trial presentation software. The bar code is an electronic annotation, a unique number in bar code format, that can be placed on the document on the computer screen and can be printed out on the document when the document is printed. I believe all the trial presentation software permits the printing and calling up of documents by bar code. I have worked with and I am most familar with Visionary because it is free and seems to have the same features as TrialDirector and Sanction II, its competitors.

In Visionary, and I assume also in Trial Director and Sanction II, the attorney can also call up and control audio and audio/visual presentations by bar code such as sound recordings and video depositions.

I believe the only advantage to using a bar code and bar code reader rather than just a keyboard entry of a document # or exhibit # into a computer (alternative methods to call up documents in trial presentation software) is to allow an attorney who is not at counsel table or at his computer to call up a document on the fly when he is at the podium etc.  It is a method of remote control.

Pencil bar code readers, such as the Baracoda pencil is a wireless blue tooth device which allows the user to be over 30 feet from the computer.  If you have an assistant at counsel table I can see no advantage for the assistant to call up documents by bar code that would justify the additional expense of the bar code reader.

(Calling up documents by bar code does have the advantage of preventing a mistake under pressure since the bar code is either read or not. The wrong document cannot be called up by a keyboard entry error.)

Scripted presentations with PowerPoint, used most often in direct examination or in opening or closing arguments, do not require the ability to call up a document on the fly or from a remote location.  In addition, if remote operation is necessary, the projectors come with remote controls to start, advance and/or stop the presentation.

Computers are now being sold with remote controls, I think primarily or only with Windows Media Center operating systems, but I have no knowledge if these devices come with software that can be used or adapted to send a document number to the computer keyboard.

Daniel A. Mengeling
Woodstock, IL

[Publisher's Note: In his article Do's and Don'ts of High-Tech Trial Presentations courtesy of, Andy Seldon specifically recommends "If your case is very document intensive, a bar code system established by [a] consultant will help you to control the presentation with very little effort."

Learn more about Visionary, TrialDirector, Sanction, and the Baracoda pencil. — Sara Skiff]

About Answers to Questions
Posts like the one above appear exclusively in Answers to Questions, a weekly newsletter in which TechnoLawyer members answer legal technology and practice management questions submitted by their peers (including you if you join TechnoLawyer). Like all of our newsletters, it's free. You can subscribe here.

Topics: Litigation/Discovery/Trials | Post | Presentations/Projectors
home my technolawyer search archives place classified blog login