Monday, September 25, 2006

Photos in a Sentencing Memorandum

Edward Tufte, the author of many books on the visual display of information, liked what he saw in the government's sentencing memorandum for Randy "Duke" Cunningham:

The government's sentencing memorandum makes excellent use of visual evidence, including these images (all beautifully integrated into the text): the menu of bribes, copies of bribe checks, handwritten notes fabricating evidence, and color photographs of bribe payments (Persian rugs, real estate, a yacht, and 2 lead glass armoires).

Viewers should click through the pages to see the excellent presentation, which almost looks like a Sotheby's or Christie's auction catalog. I couldn't have done the sentencing memo any better.
Tufte post, March 3, 2006.

The Green Bag quotes Tufte (perhaps from his new book, Beautiful Evidence, but there isn't a citation):
In American courts, the standard format for legal documents yields thin information densities (is productivity measured by the page?) induced by excessively leaded-out type. Here, however, the adroit use of visual evidence intensified the prosecutorial advocacy, reveals the scope of corruption, and mocks the attempts at evidence fabrication, making the Duke's criminality appear ludicrous.
Art & Anecdote, 9 Green Bag 2d 321, 324 (2006).

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