Author’s Comment: I will begin by thanking all of those who share their experience and knowledge with us, and those who help promote it on a grand scale. When it comes to legal-related iPad apps, sites like iPhone J.D., The Mac Lawyer, Tablet Legal and Law with an Apple are a few must-see resources. For the broader topic, Law Technology News has been around for many years, and with their new site design, featuring breaking news and up-to-the-minute articles that could become stale before making it to print, it appears they plan to be around a while longer. I hope you’ll add the Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg to your list of helpful resources, too.
Reprinted with permission from the Jan. 31, 2011 issue of Law Technology News. ©2011 ALM Media Properties, LLC.
I first learned of Jury Duty, designed by Texas attorney Stacy Kelly, while reviewing iJuror and JuryTracker and reported on it on the Court and Trial Technology Blawg. When I first spotted the application, I thought it might be a new game or entertainment app -- something to entertain a juror while dispatching his or her duty, as opposed to an aid to a legal professional involved in the process. I soon realized it was another app aimed at the same market as iJuror and JuryTracker. The competition is heating up in the "no-more-sticky-notes" litigation software category.
When the app is first opened, I was greeted by a familiar but rich-looking image of a balancing scale attended by a gavel, along with the statement: "For a More Effective Voir Dire." Voir Dire originates from the Latin term, verum dicere, which literally means, "speak the truth," and refers to the process of screening, rejecting, and selecting potential jurors.
The Panels button opened the case caption dialog, which allows me to create and store multiple cases. Once I opened an existing case, or entered the data for a new matter, I assigned specific voir dire topics to be addressed -- you can also begin to input the jurors' personal information.
The app takes advantage of the iPad's vivid display to add some nice attention to detail in realistic courtroom graphics.I really feel as though the app captures a "natural" workflow of selecting a jury. My advice, learn the apps workflow and stick to it. People do things in different ways, but when using an app such as this, you will benefit by following the flow as it was intended in court, and designed on the app. For example, I selected Jury, then Add Juror, and went right to the jury panel information dialog to enter each juror's attributes. You can quickly save and retrieve all of their important information in one place, including a temporary juror number assigned in the order of entry.
You can change the assigned juror number, but the designation does not assign them to a seat at this point. Data fields include basic people characteristics with plenty of room for notes. Completion of one field automatically puts the cursor at rest in the next field of entry, rather than having to tap each new field. This process would likely be most efficient when getting a set of jury questionnaires for review the night before selection. Working in this manner would be a bit more difficult to do on-the-fly, if you don't have your juror information set up ahead of time.
The Seating Chart view gave me the layout of the jury panel and displayed the juror number (if assigned to a seat). A little more info might be helpful here, such as the name of the juror. Although you can assign up to 200 prospective jurors, the icons are restricted to one section of the screen, which means that beyond 60 or so (six rows of 10 chairs each), they begin to get very small. Even so, if you have a complex matter and a large pool, having the ability to add up to 200 seats can be very helpful.
Tapping on a seat brought to the screen the list of juror names, so you can assign a juror to that seat. You can also drag and drop assigned jurors to any seat. Once jurors have been assigned to a seat, tapping it again will bring up that juror's basic information, along with handy options to accept, reject, strike for cause, positive or negative impression, and a notes field. Saving your input here changes the seat color from white to blue, allowing you to quickly see who you have and have not spoken with.
The Voir Dire Topics feature lets you add information that addresses the entire panel, rather than to each juror individually.
Jury Duty is designed to have your jurors' information filled out ahead of time -- which works fine if you have sufficient prep time. If you want to add new jurors, you have to go back to the case caption screen and add them from there. It would be helpful to be able to add them directly from the seating chart. It might also be helpful if the spell-checker were disabled, thus preventing names and other terms from auto-correction, e.g., "Davey" was corrected to "Raven." I would much prefer my own spelling errors in an app such as this, which I could (hopefully) decipher more easily.
Jury Duty's Report feature is nice and includes each juror's name and number; whether you accept, reject, or strike for cause; and whether your general impression of the juror is positive or negative.
Although the information is entered and saved using the pop-up dialog box that ensues after clicking a seated juror, other than this report, you cannot tell what you've entered from the visual display -- you have to dig. It would be helpful to quickly see which selections you made for each juror, rather than having to refer to a report. Reports are generated in an e-mail message format; there is also offers a Print function. iOS 4.2 does not support printing on its own, but you can add a printing app such as Printopia, a $10 app which prints wirelessly to your network or creates PDF files. (Note: Printopia works only via a networked Mac computer)
Overall, I like Jury Duty, and if you have time to enter names and information ahead of time to quickly assign them to a seat during voir dire, it will work great. This app competes more directly with iJuror than JuryTracker. Although you can observe your jury during the trial, adding notes or observations would be an entirely manual process.
With ample time to input case and juror details, Jury Duty looks like another good app that avoids the use of sticky-notes during voir dire.
Ted Brooks is a trial presentation consultant, author, and speaker, with offices in Los Angeles & San Francisco. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Blog: Court and Trial Technology Blawg.
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Jury Duty, Stacy Kelly, $39.99
Ted Brooks, President
"Enhancing the Art of Communication"
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