The answer is "Yes," it does make a difference.

You might think "Who cares about trial exhibits and what you call them?"
Ah, let me tell you why it's important...

In every trial, we need to use exhibits.
We have medical records we need to get into evidence.
We have anatomical models that medical experts will use to explain your injuries.
We often have photographs that the jury needs to see.

We have enlargements that the jury can follow as a witness reads from a piece of paper.
We have transcripts that must be read from.
We have drawings that will be referred to.

It doesn't matter if it's a medical malpractice trial, an accident case or even a wrongful death case that goes to trial.
Every case involves exhibits.
So let me ask you this question...

Let's say an attorney wanted to show a photograph to a witness.
"Mr. Jones, I'd like you to look at this," he says and hands it to the witness.
"What is that, that I just handed you?" the attorney says.
"Uh, it's a photograph," the witness says in a confused tone.
"Great. What's it a photograph of?"
"The accident scene," the witness replies.

Let's say the attorney has ten photographs showing different views of the accident scene and wants all of them introduced into evidence.
If an appeals court were to read the transcript a year from now, how would they know what "This" or "That" refers to?
We know these are all photographs, but we don't know which ones the witness was talking about as he described what happened.

That's why it's vitally important for every exhibit that we use at trial to be identified.

"Your honor, I'm showing my client a photograph of the accident scene. Can I have this marked for identification please?"
"Of course," the judge says. "Mark it as Plaintiff's 1 for identification," the judge says.
"Mr. Jones, I'd like you to look at this photograph of the accident scene that has been marked as Plaintiff's 1 for identification. Have you ever seen this photo before?" the attorney says.

Now, everybody in the courtroom understands the witness is talking about this one particular photograph.
"Your honor, I'd like this next photo marked for identification as well," your lawyer says.
"Very well. Mark it Plaintiff's 2 for identification," the judge says to the court reporter.

"Mr. Jones, take a look at this next photo, marked Plaintiff's 2 for identification, does this show a different view of the accident scene compared to the photo marked as Plaintiff's 1 for identification?" your lawyer asks.

The ultimate goal for each of these exhibits is to get them into evidence.
You should know there are specific requirements that have to be shown in order to admit an exhibit into evidence. (I'll save that discussion for another day).

When I feel that I have established the foundation needed to get an exhibit into evidence, I will offer it into evidence.
"Judge, I offer Exhibits 1 & 2 into evidence," I say.
If the judge agrees, he will tell the court reporter to change the notation on the exhibits.
"Madam court reporter, please change the markings on Exhibits 1 & 2 from being marked for identification to being marked into evidence," the judge says with authority.

Later, when the defense lawyer has an opportunity to introduce some exhibits, there's one important difference.

"Judge, I'd like to have the medical records for this patient marked for identification," my opponent says.
"Fine. Madam court reporter, please mark those medical records as Exhibit A for identification," the judge says in response.

Did you notice the difference?
It's a slight difference but it's an important one.
It's a difference between using numbers to identify exhibits and using letters.

The judge and the attorneys will need to keep track of all exhibits used during your trial.
There are two categories of exhibits...
The first category are those exhibits that are just identified. "Exhibits marked for identification"
The second category involves exhibits that were admitted into evidence.

Not every exhibit that is offered into evidence will be admitted.
Also, not every exhibit used will be offered into evidence.
Lastly, it's important to know who has introduced the exhibit.

Was it the Plaintiff's lawyer? (The attorney who represents an injured victim or patient.)
Was it the defense lawyer?

If the exhibit has a letter identifying it, it means it's been used by the defense.
If the exhibit has a number associated with it, it means it's been used by the plaintiff.

Now you know the difference between the two.

To learn what an attorney does if the opposing lawyer asks to use your trial exhibit, I invite you to watch the video below...

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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