Justice by PowerPoint

Did you know that lawyers in US courts are allowed to use PowerPoint in making their arguments? Neither did I, until I read this:

Perhaps the most common misuse of what some legal scholars call “visual advocacy” is the emblazoning of the word “Guilty” across a defendant’s photo. Almost always the letters are red—the “color of blood and the color used to denote losses,” as one court wrote. Two months ago the Court of Appeals of Missouri ruled in a case where the prosecution, in closing argument, presented the following slide:


The defendant, Chadwick Leland Walter, had been convicted of attempting to manufacture methamphetamine and of maintaining a public nuisance. The photo used for the slide was Walter’s booking photo—hence, the orange jail clothing. As the appeals court noted, the state could not force Walter to appear before a jury in jail garb, because that could undermine the presumption of innocence. But the prosecution’s use of the booking photo had the same effect.