As jurors go online, U.S. trials go off track

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updated 12/8/2010 9:43:29 PM ET

ATLANTA — The explosion of blogging, tweeting and other online diversions has reached into U.S. jury boxes, raising serious questions about juror impartiality and the ability of judges to control courtrooms.

A Reuters Legal analysis found that jurors‘ forays on the Internet have resulted in dozens of mistrials, appeals and overturned verdicts in the last two years.

For decades, courts have instructed jurors not to seek information about cases outside of evidence introduced at trial, and jurors are routinely warned not to communicate about a case with anyone before a verdict is reached. But jurors these days can, with a few clicks, look up definitions of legal terms on Wikipedia, view crime scenes via Google Earth, or update their blogs and Facebook pages with snide remarks about the proceedings.

The consequences can be significant. […] See More

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Tablet Wars Update

 

Screenshot from CNet.com

Again, in fine form, our friends at CNet.com have provided an excellent review of the Samsung Galaxy and the Apple iPad.  The video link above will provide you with much of the information that one would want in making a decision about which tablet to buy.  There is also quite a bit of updating on the newcomers to the tablet market.

While I am a very satisfied customer with my iPad, I can certainly see how someone else would be interested in the upcoming competition.  However, the two-screen tablets are of future interest to me since I would like to have a tablet that allows me to type on one screen into a word processing app, while having my research up on the other screen.

Pics of Iconia Two-Screen Tab (Engadget.com)

I don’t necessarily need a full laptop experience, but definitely see a need for being able to multitask better than is presently allowed by any of the ‘major’ players in the field.  I state this last observation keeping in mind the IOS 4.2 update that we recently got from Apple.  Having to press the home button twice and switch around is not my idea of practical app multitasking.

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Microsoft Office 11 for Mac — Looks Good

Office Mac 2011 is definitely an upgrade from the 2008 version.  Among other things, the user interface has improved dramatically.  The various tools and tabs on the ribbon are useful and intuitive.  In fact, I would claim that the Mac version is better than the Windows version.  I still have to figure out the ribbon UI in Windows and gave up long ago.  One of my favorite additions to the Office Suite is the “Notebook” template, which is very much like the Notebook offering made by CircusPonies.com, without any significant cost differential.  Most of the templates are more on the consumer side and I am looking forward to seeing if my Windows-based pleadings templates will be compatible with the Mac version.  Another key issue will be looking at the ease of being able to insert tables for exhibit lists, witness lists, or for demonstrative courtroom exhibits.  The Powerpoint program seems equally intuitive and the interface is clean and understandable.  Again, the templates are are little simplistic, but easily tailored to meet the needs of a trial lawyer preparing a presentation with use of video clips from a deposition, pdf exhibits, images, and interactive elements. The spreadsheet element of Office is what one would expect and offers a number of good templates, including invoicing, timesheets, and other useful tools for the legal profession.  Finally, I really like the smooth interface between SkyDrive and the Suite.  I have been using SkyDrive or its predecessors for some time and have enjoyed the remote accessibility to my files, especially during trials and travelling.  SkyDrive also makes it easy to share files with clients, which is becoming more important as cloud-based technology develops.  All in all, the suite is just one more reason to justify the transition to Mac as an office tool.  While many of us in the legal world are stuck on Wordperfect, this offering may just be the reason to finally break the chains so that lawyers can more easily interact with clients (most of whom use Word).  I give this new version of Office a 9.5 out of 10.  If there were templates for pleading, I’d give it a 10.  For additional reviews see, TechRadar.com and ZDNet.com.  For an article on whether it’s worth your time, money and effort to upgrade your present office suite, you can see this MacWorld article which does a good job of speaking to this issue.