Picking a Jury, iPad Style (Free book excerpt)

Excerpted and adapted from iPad in One Hour for Litigators by Tom Mighell, now available from LPM Publishing.

If you are in the fortunate position of having the jury list a few hours or even a day before voir dire begins, you can choose from several innovative iPad apps to help select a jury and track juror information.

As a technology-focused person, the most frustrating part of a trial for me has always been jury selection. While trying cases, I was usually relegated to sketching out a grid on a legal pad because no good technology was available for keeping track of my voir dire activities. Fast forward to the present, and the iPad is here with a solution to my frustration—or make that solutions—in the form of several innovative jury selection apps. These apps make it relatively easy to keep all the information about your jury in one place, where you can review or share it with others.

Before diving into these apps, however, a word of caution. These apps require quite a bit of data input before they can be used to best effect; for best results you should already have all the information on each potential juror entered before you even start the jury selection process. In many courts, however, you might not see the jury list until fifteen minutes before voir dire begins. These apps work best for those trials where you receive the jury list at least a few hours ahead of time, if not a whole day.

Probably the easiest app to use for picking a jury is iJuror. When you open the app for the first time, you’ll see several options—New Trial, Saved Trials, Browse All Jurors, Charts & Stats, and Unlink Dropbox Account.

Select New Trial, and on the next screen enter the trial name, the date, and the size of your jury, plus alternates. On the next screen, you’ll see blank rows of chairs, where you will seat your jury panel. To match the screen to the seating arrangement in the courtroom or jury room, select Seat Layout in the upper right corner and select the number of rows and number of seats per row. Your main screen should now match the voir dire panel seated in front of you.

Here’s where the work comes in. Press on an empty seat and a juror information screen will appear. You can enter the Name, Juror Number, Employment, Hometown, and any notes you have on the main screen. If you press Enter/View Basic Juror Details at the top of the screen, you can enter other demographic information—Age, Sex, Race, Marital Status, Children, Education, and your current opinion of the person. (You can also enter custom fields here for other information you like to collect.) Press Save Information, and on the main screen you’ll see that seat is now filled with a juror. Hint: if you press the gear button in the upper right corner, you’ll find options to “quick enter” basic juror information, and edit multiple jurors at once, among other things. Once you’ve finished, you should have a full panel on the main screen.

Once you start jury selection, just press on a juror to take notes on his or her responses. You can also add a custom list of questions, which will appear on the individual page for each panelist, where you can enter their answers. To view your entire panel at a glance, press Juror Overview, and you’ll see a digital version of the legal pad I once used at trial.

You can also share this information with others on your trial team, either via Bluetooth or File Sharing through Dropbox or iTunes. However, the person you’re sharing with must also be using iJuror to receive the file. Once you’ve finished with jury selection, simply drag the panelists into the appropriate location—the Peremptory “wastebaskets” (for Us or Them), the Cause wastebasket, or into a seat on the final jury panel.

If you use iJuror, you might also want to try iJuror Stickies, which enables you to keep additional information on jurors.

You can create rows with different colors and group multiple jurors into different categories. Like iJuror, you can also share anything created here with others via email or printing. My only gripe is that this functionality should have been built into iJuror, where all information could exist in the same place. It’s a great idea for an app, but it belongs with the other iJuror information.

Your iJuror information is also available online through iJuror Connect, a subscription service that allows you to enter all your jury information on a desktop or laptop, and then import the data into the iPad app. When you’ve finished with your case, you can import the updated information back into the online database, to keep a permanent record of all your jury trials. It would certainly be more convenient if the app and online service could communicate and sync directly with each other; hopefully this will be a feature added in future releases. Pricing runs between $30 and $140 per month, depending on the size of your firm.

JuryStar offers a different spin on jury selection: ranking jurors based on their answers to your voir dire questions. Like iJuror, you’ll have to do quite a bit of data entry on your jury pool. To get started, press the Trials button at the bottom, then the + sign next to Saved Trials. Enter the name of your trial, and then specify the size of your jury pool; JuryStar can display a pool of up to 3,025 panelists—55 rows of 55 jurors.

When you have created your trial, press the Enter Cells button at the bottom. Press on a jury seat, and then Juror Info, and you will see a screen where you can enter basic information on the panelist: Name, Race, Gender, Age, Marital Status, Education, and places for more demographic information and notes. This is where the hard work is done. When you’ve finished entering information on each juror, you need to tap the name to seat the juror in the grid above.

Once the panel is completed, you can load your voir dire questions.

Press Load Questions, and then the + sign to add a new topic. After the topic is added, you can add as many questions under that topic as you like. The app comes preloaded with topics like Prior Jury Experience, Prior Legal Experience, and Experience with Law Enforcement, but you can create any topic you want. When you’re ready to select the jury, press on the Voir Dire tab; all of the panelists you entered will be listed here, along with all of your questions at the bottom of the screen. As you go through your questions, press the panelist answering your questions, and then move the rating scale (currently with a range of –5 to +5) to indicate your opinion of how they answered your questions. Press the Rate button to assign the rating. You can also press Like or Dislike to indicate an overall opinion of the panelist (see Figure 5.2). After the questioning is completed, you can move to the Strike Jurors screen to indicate the jurors that are struck, either by you, the opposing party, or the court.

JuryStar offers no way to rank the jurors based on the scores you gave them—it just provides the individual scores for each juror in that panelist’s individual data cell. There’s also no way to export your jury information to other formats outside of your iPad.

iJury  is similar to JuryStar, in that it also allows you to score jurors on their answers to pre-populated as well as custom questions. When you set up a case, you are able to specify the number of panelists, and whether you’ll want to see Civil, Criminal, Custom, or Common Voir Dire questions. If you have your own custom questions, enter them on the setup page. Once your jury information is entered, you are able to see basic demographics for the panelists (as in iJuror). And when you select Group Score, the questions you selected appear on that screen. As you question jurors, you can score their answers to your questions by pressing the + or buttons (see Figure 5.3).

Like JuryStar, the app doesn’t rank the jurors for you based on their scores—it only provides a breakdown of the positive, negative, and neutral reactions you receive from them. The ability to export information is also limited. When you press the Export button, the basic case information, names of jury panelists, and demographic information are exported.

Another jury selection app that appeared just before this book was published is JuryPad, which upon its initial release has most of the same tools as the other apps, and with a nice user interface. In addition to the basic data entry fields (race, marital/education status, employer, etc.), there are other fields for military experience, civil or criminal trial experience, knowledge of the case or parties, and information on the panelist’s family members. You can view the potential jurors as a list or in a seating chart, and add notes or other information from either view. There are currently no templates for voir dire questions, but the developers plan to add this feature in future releases. There is also no current method for ranking jurors. You can share the list of jurors via spreadsheet or text file, or with other JuryPad users. This app looks like a worthy option for jury selection, but it still needs some work before it approaches the feature set of the other tools mentioned in this Lesson.

If you have a paralegal or assistant who is able to observe the jury, and if a full-time jury consultant is out of your budget range, you might want to check out JuryTracker. It’s designed to record the reactions of your jury once they are seated. Just enter your basic case information, and the names of your jurors. When you’re ready to start, press the timer for the side that’s asking the questions.

As jurors begin to react to the testimony, press on a specific juror to enter that reaction. You have a number of choices. You can note whether a juror is happy, smiling, neutral, crying, angry, nodding or shaking head, taking notes, being attentive, making eye contact, watching the time, fidgeting, daydreaming, or even sleeping. You can predict whether the juror will side with the plaintiff or defendant, characterize them as a leader or follower, and indicate whether the individual is a key juror. All of these observations will be stored, and you can later package them into reports by juror, the party presenting, a specific reaction, or a full chronological report. You can save these reports as text files, spreadsheets, PDFs, or in an email.

I think JuryTracker is a fun, interesting app—for lawyers or their assistants who have a lot of time to do this during a trial. One other caution is that, as of the time of this writing, the app had not been updated in nearly a year, which may indicate the developer’s lack of interest in maintaining it.

As you can see, jury selection apps can be very interesting and useful, but only if you have the time to enter all the relevant information. If not, you may find that a legal pad is still your best friend during voir dire.

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