Tech Fixes In The Courtroom

One of my biggest fears is having something to go wrong in the courtroom.  I have learned that it doesn’t matter how much you practice in the office or conference that something is bound to go wrong when you set up in the courtroom.  Some times there is simply nothing you can do but here are a few fixes to keep in mind whih could help you in these situations:



Once you have connected your laptop to the court’s presentation system, you see the display on your laptop but not on the courtroom screen(s).

Possible solutions:

  • Reboot the laptop.
  • Check the cable.  On more than one occasion I have discovered that one of the pins were bent or missing in the VGA cable.
  • Adjust the resolution.  Ask the Court IT staff what the resolution is on their projector/flat screen.
  • Toggle your display by pressing Windows Key + P.  This will show you the settings to duplicate or extend your display.
  • Make sure the Court’s equipment is set on the correct input for your laptop.



“What’s that noise?”

Court Reporters are very sensitive to sounds and understandably so since they have to transcribe what they hear during court.

Possible solutions:

  • Change cables
  • Use 2-prong adapter on power cord



Everything else is working fine but then someone tries to do a PowerPoint presentation for closing and they discover that the photos they put in their slides are not fitting on the screen.

Possible solutions:

  • Check the resolution.  Make sure it matches the Court’s projector or flat screen.
  • Check the cable.  Once again it could be a problem with a pin that is missing or bent on the VGA cable.
  • Make sure the user is in slide show mode



You have a recording to play and you can’t hear the audio.  No need to panic, try these first:

  • Check the volume on your laptop.
  • Make sure the audio cable is plugged into the correct jack.  In most cases it will be the headphone jack on your laptop.
  • Check the volume on the Court’s system



You’ve got your laptop connected to the Court’s projector or flat screen but you experience intermittent outages.  Most laptops today are eliminating the VGA connection in favor of HDMI or Display Port (don’t get me started on the Display Port) but some laptops still have the VGA option but have eliminated the ability to screw in the cable.

  • Check to see that the VGA is securely connected to your laptop.   I recently attached velcro to both the cable and under the laptop to ensure the VGA would stay connected.
  • If the above doesn’t work, check the other end of the connection as well as the path the cable is taking to/from the laptop.  Believe it or not, sometimes someone on the legal team will put a box or something on the cable that could interfere.

There are other unique things that come up but these are some of the common issues I have experienced.  I don’t have to tell you how nerve wrecking it can be to experience problems in the courtroom.  It’s always good practice to get into the courtroom the day before your trial to set up everything and test it.  There have been many times that I had in my mind how something was going to work but when I actually got into the courtroom to test it out I discovered issues that I had time to resolve before trial.   One thing you can never assume is the availability of electrical outlets.  Yes even in 2018 some courtrooms are limited on availability to plug in our electronic devices.  Once I had to go to Lowe’s and purchase some extension cords and plugged under the judge’s bench so that we could have power to our devices.

Always test your equipment but always be ready in case something goes wrong.  The best way to be ready is to have spare cables, connectors and equipment in case you need to switch out on the fly.


Litigation Support On Call


One thing you can count on with litigation support is that you don’t always know how your day is going to flow.  There are some days that you can simply throw your schedule in the trash can.

To be sure, the one thing you can’t control is the lack of someone else to plan ahead.

I was reminded of that lesson this week.

Yes, this week.  The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day which is usually supposed to be the “slow” week.

I came in one morning and was working on a few projects when I got an urgent call that an attorney who needed to play a video in a court hearing.   It was 10 a.m. and the hearing was set for 10:30 a.m.   The courtroom, of course, had no presentation equipment so I got my cart that I keep ready for these situations and wheeled it down the hallway along with a projection screen.

I also pulled out my emergency necktie and sport coat and raced off to court.  It’s a good thing I keep those nearby.  I can’t say that everything matched but I was presentable and met the dress code for being in the courtroom with the attorney.

I quickly set up the projector and screen.  The attorney brought in the laptop and I had everything ready to go within 10 minutes.

Although I get annoyed with the lack of planning by others in situations like this, I know this is part of the job will never change.  The best thing you can do is be prepared for this to happen.  I was glad that I had the equipment on a cart and was ready for these contingencies.  After over 20 years doing this, you have to be ready.

Here’s what’s on my cart:

  • Projector with adjustable lenses (because you just don’t know what the projection angles will be)
  • Remote Control for projector
  • VGA cables with audio
  • Extension Cord
  • Cord covers/gaffer’s tape
  • Laptop power adapter (attorneys usually forget them)
  • Portable projection screen

In addition to the equipment items, I usually keep a few sport coats hanging on the back of my door and a neck tie in my bag that match my clothes I’m wearing that day.

As far as the court hearing goes, the video played without a hitch and no one knew the anxious moments leading up to the video being played.