The following Guest Post is from noted Nashville trial attorney, Eddie Davidson, in which he explains his thoughts on a some of the benefits of having a Mac-driven practice – especially the flexibility of his MacBook Pro.
I handle catastrophic injury cases. My case volume is low, but each case demands a lot of attention and detail work. Every deposition I take is a video deposition. Video depos are an indispensible tool throughout the litigation process as I am continually re-framing my case in anticipation of trial. I am fortunate to have an outstanding videographer, Lisa Williams, who works with me. She is Mac-based. About five years ago she inspired me to take the leap from PC to Mac, and I am forever grateful. I am now all Mac all the time.
I offer here a specific instance in which the MacBook Pro (MBP) helped turn a difficult case into a complete success. But before I get to the details of that case, I should point out that in my pre-Mac days, I would hire local video studios to edit my video depos – and it cost me a FORTUNE!!! I paid out tens of thousands of dollars over the years for others to do what I can now do – from start to finish – on my MBP. I am a Mac evangelist.
The case involved a tragic intersection collision in which my client, a 17-year passenger in a Honda Civic, incurred fatal injuries upon being ejected from the Civic when it collided with a Heavy Duty GMC truck owned by a regional corporation and driven by an entrusted employee. The young plaintiff never went home. He died in his hospital bed 31 days after the wreck. The accident report placed all blame on the driver of the Civic – who had minimal coverage limits.
I was retained several months after the collision. I looked at the photos, the news clip and talked to a police officer that worked the scene. The accident report notwithstanding, my review of the photos convinced me that the GMC truck was traveling at an excessive speed – far above the posted 45 mph limit. I brought in a top-notch PE PhD engineering expert – one that I have trusted many times before – who concurred. I filed suit and requested the EDR. Click here and you will see for yourself whether our hunch was correct.
THE ROLE OF THE MBP
The MBP played a huge role in this case. As always, I used it to edit the many video depos. I also used Garage Band to record a few witness statements. But hands down, the most effective use of the MBP was using Photo Booth to take video statements of witnesses. In the video clip you will see two Photo Booth generated excerpts, one of a retired judge (he was in no way associated with the instant case) and the other of an on-site witness. They both contradicted the defendant driver of the GMC. Their video statements literally turned the case around.
So, you may ask, “What’s the big deal about taking a couple of video statements with Photo Booth?” The answer is a triumvirate: 1) Convenience, 2) Quality, and 3) Dependability. Let me provide context. The Judge had been retired for some years. He would occasionally surface at the courthouse to say hello to a colleague or two before heading out to work on his golf game. I knew his statement could be critical, but no one had a phone number for him. Had I written him a letter or formally noticed him, it would have taken weeks to coordinate schedules and get his statement. Instead, a day before the defendant’s deposition was to resume, a friend of mine called and said the judge was in town. I packed up the MBP, drove to the courthouse, found the judge, and asked him if he’d mind commenting on a specific matter. He obliged, and you can view the result on the video post.
Once I had his video statement conveniently in Photo Booth, I had a high-quality, reliable, mobile, ready-to-view video product. No transferring digital tape from a clunky video camera. No downloading or inter-machine file transfers. It was all there in Photo Booth. The next day, during the defendant’s deposition, with my LCD projector, I could project the judge’s video statement onto a portable screen and ask the deponent to comment. (That’s right, the defendant deponent being videoed while watching a video of someone contradicting him.)
The situation with the other witness was even more pressing. Until the actual day of the defendant’s deposition, I had been unable to locate her. After running a newspaper ad “a friend of a friend” of hers called me and told me where I might find her. When I drove to her location – an hour or so before the defendant’s deposition was to resume – I arrived with nothing but my MBP and a business card. She had health troubles and required an O2 nasal cannula, but in less than 5 minutes I was in and out – as you can see. A few hours later I was projecting her statement onto the screen – and her statement was in direct contradiction to that of the defendant’s. (Once again, the defendant deponent was being videoed while watching a video of another witness contradicting him.) See it all by clicking here.
When the defendant and his counsel were confronted with the two contradictory statements from two disinterested and highly credible witnesses, the case made a dramatic turn in my client’s favor – in spite of the fact that the initial accident report had cleared that defendant of fault. The case was resolved not long after that deposition.
Convenience, Quality and Dependability. Never once did I stress over whether the MBP would deliver in these situations. In my mobile and paperless practice Mac has delivered time after time. I am a believer. I will NEVER go back.
THE MBP IN MEDIATION BROCHURES
I present all of my mediation brochures in a paperless video format. The excerpt is taken from my video mediation brochure in this case. The complete brochure ran just under 45 minutes and contained deposition excerpts, photos, documents, TV news clips and narrative. The scrolling text feature of iMovie HD remains a favorite of mine. (I am not pleased with the newer iMovie and will likely stay with the older version.) Each time that I have encountered a new mediator who is unfamiliar with my practice of presenting a mediation brochure in pure digital format I have so far – after guaranteeing them a paper back up if necessary – been able to persuade him/her to give it a try. None of them have asked for paper – yet.
R. Eddie Davidson is a highly respected trial attorney, located in Nashville, TN. He has an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and he was placed on their Bar Registry of Preeminent Lawyers in America. He has also been named to Super Lawyers of the Southeast in the category of Plaintiff Litigation, and the Nashville Business Journal has named him Best of the Bar in litigation. He is a faculty member with the National College of Advocacy, who has taught lawyers and law students the arts, sciences and skills of litigation and jury trials.