The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ted’s Top Ten from 2011

Here are a few of my most popular and favorite articles from the past year. Thanks for reading and sharing this blog!

JANUARY 12, 2011 – This article offered the first head-to-head comparison of the first two trial presentation apps for iPad, and quickly found itself at the top position for all-time most popular articles, where it remains today. There are now others, including Exhibit A and ExhibitView for iPad, which I will be reviewing very soon.

JANUARY 24, 2011 – What is it about those iPad app reviews? Readership on this blog increased exponentially in 2011, largely attributed to the many iPad app reviews I’ve written. This article explores several apps for jury selection and monitoring, and is comfortably in the second position for all-time most popular articles.

MAY 3, 2011 – Often, litigators make certain assumptions about the Judge and jury, which are not always on the mark. One such assumption is that Judges don’t care for the use of technology in court. Here are a few noteworthy quotes for the doubters.

MAY 18, 2011 – I’ve never really used a device just because it’s the cool thing to do. I do love my iPad, but I don’t believe it is a true laptop replacement – regardless of what others might say. Same goes for my phone. I did my homework, and found that the Google phone would be a better tool than the iPhone, and on a better network (Sprint) that still features an unlimited data plan. This particular article was also very popular in the non-legal tech channels.

JULY 5, 2011 – It’s hard to believe this happen this past year – it already seems so long ago. Our justice system was put to the test, as was our perception of trial coverage by the media. Whether you agree or not, the verdict stands.  This article was very popular in both the legal and non-legal audience.

SEPTEMBER 6, 2011 – Written for CAOC Forum Magazine, this article was mentioned as one of the most-read posts on LinkedIn. While the basics of trial preparation are similar, you’d better have everything ready to go in an abbreviated trial.

SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 – This was perhaps the saddest article I’ve ever written. Regardless of your position on capital punishment, we must not allow our judicial system to be manipulated in the interest of convenience or to satisfy public rage.

NOVEMBER 7, 2011 – Due diligence should go beyond the storefront. Make sure the person who will actually be working with you is qualified. Don’t just accept the sales pitch.

NOVEMBER 20, 2011 – Hmm, looks like I was on a roll here. If you are considering bringing in an outside vendor to assist with your next trial, this article offers another check-list of qualifications you should be looking for.

DECEMBER 4, 2011 – You can’t accuse me of tooting my own horn with this one. In fact, I’ve listed several of my favorite sources of legal and technology information. In less than a month, it has found a home on my all-time most popular articles, at number 3. Readers have added several of their own suggestions. Feel free to add yours.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mobile Living: Life on the Road

No, I’m not talking about hitting the road in an RV. I’m talking about the out-of-town trial, and a few things you might not otherwise think about until you need them – which would then be too late. I’ll offer a few thoughts here, and feel free to add yours at the end of the article.

Internet Connection – Honestly, I can’t imagine being without a decent connection these days, when only a few years ago, it was a pure luxury. In most courthouses in major cities, you can get a decent cell-phone signal. If you can do that, and if you have a smart phone that doubles as a Wi-Fi Hotspot, you’re set for providing access to several laptops, iPads, or other devices. There are also services such as Courtroom Connect in many courtrooms, in addition to a free public service in some (usually intended for jurors). All due cautions apply to each.

Printing, Scanning, Copying – These common, simple daily functions must not be overlooked, and ideally, you will be able to do a decent job of each in both the war room and the court room. While the war room should have equipment available to handle the expected volume, you should also be able to scan or print something in the courtroom, if necessary. There are a number of portable scanners and printers on the market, and mine fit into my carry-on bag which I take to court with me each day. I’d rather not print 10 copies of 12 different exhibits in a big hurry, but I can handle the occasional (or frequent) emergency.
With that, you might also consider using 3-hole pre-drilled paper if you’re putting everything into binders, so you don’t have to worry about punching the pages. One more tip is to bring along a high-capacity stapler, since many exhibits are too thick for a standard staple (over about 20 pages). You should also check out local resources for vendors.

Redundancy – You should always have a current backup of your trial database available. When you’re at home, this may be simple, but when you’re on the road, although dealing with the “blue screen of death” is no longer a routine issue, problems still occur. I recommend have a second laptop of the same make, model and configuration, in addition to a full copy on an external hard drive, which may be used to transfer from one to the other (leaving a third copy on the drive itself). I’m not a big fan of data sync software either, and I have seen it fail. There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you realize something has gone wrong. At least if you’re handling it manually, you will know what you did, and likely have a quick recovery available. Also, over-writing database files doesn’t always go as expected, so I will first delete the old set, and then copy over the updated set. Thumb drives and cloud services such as Dropbox can also be helpful.

Other Devices – iPads, Tablets and other devices can also help to make your life a bit more comfortable. If you have one, you know what I mean. If you don’t, you probably won’t understand until you get one. Although there are even apps for trial presentation which I’ve reviewed here, such as TrialPad, Exhibit A, Evidence, and now ExhibitView (currently on sale for $29.99, which I’ll be reviewing soon), most of the cases I handle are far too complex for the capabilities of the iPad. On smaller matters, however, using the iPad in trial could be fun. I have successfully used mine in several CLE presentations.

Use Caution With Room Services – If you’re looking for an easy way of upsetting an otherwise happy client, go ahead and turn in your expense report with a long list of top movies, fine dining, cocktails, and sending out all of your suits you’ve been meaning to get dry-cleaned. Just because you’re living in a hotel doesn’t mean you’re on vacation. Although your extravagant indulgences may be strategically distributed throughout the duration of your stay, think of how it’s going to look on paper – one right after another.

Okay, off to court. Have a great day!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

12 Top Legal Sites You Should Check Out

Many of us have our own short-list of web sites we check frequently to keep current on topics of interest. Whether you found your way to this site through a web search, clicked on a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn link, I appreciate that you’re reading the Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg. Of course, I also greatly appreciate those who share this site with others. Web traffic and readership are pure motivation to bloggers, as are comments and compliments.

I am going to share a few of my favorite blogs which I enjoy reading regularly. I hope you’ll enjoy my list, which will focus on legal technology, jury selection, graphics and trial presentation. Feel free to add some of your favorites in the comments area.

1.    Law Technology News -- The mother of all legal technology sites, this site is a publication, headed up by Monica Bay, a household name in legal technology. Articles are original, fresh and timely, and they also have a print publication available. Authors include a staff of excellent writers, and LTN features many familiar names in the profession.

2.     The Red Well -- This site features a directory and preview links to current articles provided by a select group of bloggers. Topics include Jury Selection, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, and Communication for Lawyers.

3.      The Jury Expert -- This site is not actually a blog, but rather a very highly-regarded monthly collection of articles, provided by members of the American Society of Trial Consultants. Authors vary monthly.

4.     LinkedIn Trial Technology -- With nearly 2000 members, this is the largest online group focusing on the intersection of law, technology, and visual communication.

5.      Lawyer Tech Review -- This site features a bi-lingual (English and Spanish) collection of articles covering all the latest tech-toys a lawyer could want. A favorite is the App Friday series, where legal luminaries are asked about the apps they use. Attorney Geri Dreiling is the Editor, with Enrique Serrano providing the Spanish version of the site.

6.       Bow Tie Law -- Attorney Josh Gilland explores legal technology and its application in case law, and covers e-discovery frequently.

7.    Deliberations -- The “official” blog of the American Society of Trial Consultants features articles by Jury Consultant Matt McCusker.

8.    Cogent Legal Blog -- Morgan Smith and company offer a great deal of insight on how to communicate visually, using graphics and animations. Smith, an attorney, is the primary author, with contributions from others.

9.    The Litigation Consulting Report -- Ken Lopez features helpful topics focusing on using graphics to speak to jurors. Some great ideas.

10. Information Graphics & Litigation -- Jason Barnes offers great insight on visual communication techniques based on his years of experience in the profession.

11. Litigation PostScript -- Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm provides perspectives of a Jury Consultant. Lots of great “how-to” info on jury selection and analysis.

12.   Litigation Support Technology & News -- Joseph Bartolo and Frank Canterino scour the net for you to offer a collection of summaries of current articles found on many popular blogs.

I’d gladly recommend any or all of these sites to those who are interested in the modern practice of law. Of course, there are many more, and feel free to add your own in the comments section, and use the Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social media buttons to share this collection. As a disclaimer, I will mention that I have contributed to numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 12 listed above.