Do Witnesses Have the Ability to Summarize Mass of Documents During Testimony ?
In Crawford Distributing Co. and F.L. Walz, Inc. v. Hobart Corp., 224 Ill. App. 3d 727, 586 N.E.2d 1314, 167 Ill. Dec. 42 (1992) an accountant and investigator for the Attorney General's office, in a prosecution of the defendant for restraint of trade, reviewed 1,200 to 1,250 invoices from the defendant that had been selected by the prosecutor from a much greater number of invoices subpoenaed from the defendant. Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 76.
The witness reviewed the invoices, tabulated, summarized, and charted them to demonstrate to the jury whether the defendant had increased its prices in conformity with the previous announcement it had made. the trial court admitted the witness' testimony and charts over the defendant's objection. Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 76.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the witness should not have been allowed to testify as an expert and that the charts should not have been admitted. Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 76-77.
Our supreme court disagreed.
First, the Crawford Distributing Co. court noted that the number of invoices, 1,200 to 1,250, was "such that it would be inconvenient for the jurors to be expected to look at each document and plot in their minds the significance of each." Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 77.
In this regard, the court found that the "charts only simplified and clarified what the invoices would show if the jurors took the time and had the ability to chart the details." Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 77.
More specifically, it was the Crawford Distributing Co. court's belief that "it is impractical to require the jury to read the entire mass of documents and entries." Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 77.
Accordingly, the Crawford Distributing Co. court concluded that "the convenience of the trial demands that the other evidence be permitted in the form of the testimony of a competent witness who has perused the entire mass of documents and states summarily the net result." Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 77. With respect to the witness testifying as an expert, the court stated:
"It was necessary for the State to demonstrate to the court that the witness had the ability to summarize these invoices before his testimony or charts could be admitted into evidence.
Thus, although he did not testify as an expert in that he did not express an Opinion, his expertise demonstrated that he had the ability to examine and summarize the invoices." Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 77.
The defendant also argued that the charts should have been excluded because they did not contain all of the evidence. Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 77-78.
The Crawford Distributing Co. court again disagreed, finding that the defendant had an opportunity to cross-examine the witness about items that were not charted. Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 78.
Ultimately, the Crawford Distributing Co. court concluded that "it was within the discretion of the court to admit such statements or schedules of figures or the results of the examination of numerous documents to be introduced into evidence." Crawford Distributing Co., 78 Ill. 2d at 78.