iPad Technology in Jury Selection
Although there is a lot to be said for a “low-tech” approach to organizing and keeping track of the sometimes massive amounts of information accumulated during the jury selection process, there are options available to those who want to face the challenge with more than a pack of Post-it Notes and a pen. While numerous computer-based jury selection programs have been widely available for quite some time, Apple’s release of the iPad has opened the door to a whole new way of electronically tracking juror characteristics and voir dire responses.1 Because of its easy to use touch-screen and its “drag and drop” technology, the iPad appears to be a very attractive alternative to the traditional pen and notepad system.
The iPad allows the user to move beyond the limitations of a more traditional method of note taking in a number of ways, including:
- The ability to permanently store (and e-mail) the information collected duringvoir dire in an organized and easily read format2;
- The ability to quickly enter a significant amount of demographic-type information about each juror via a simple tap of the finger (using the iPad’s “wheel” style of data input); and
- The unique ability to “visualize” the panel using true-to-life icons that can be easily moved around (e.g., from the gallery to the box or removal from the box altogether via a cause or preemptory challenge).
While this technology may make some want to jump out of their chair and run to the nearest Apple Store to grab an iPad for use during their next trial, there are some disadvantages to this new technology in the fast-paced and often unpredictable world of jury selection. First and foremost is the speed of data entry (yes, I know – I noted the speed of data entry as an advantage above). The thing is, unless the data you wish to input is a pre-selected category (thereby enabling you to use the “wheel” style of input), using the iPad’s on-screen keyboard can be slow and clunky. The current incarnations of jury selection apps for the iPad also are not particularly flexible and/or customizable when it comes to courtroom layout. This can be particularly problematic when trying to recreate the courtroom in an attempt to visualize the panel. Then, there is always the chance that a mistake will be made. While mistakes inevitably happen now and then, they are much easier to correct when using the traditional pen and paper method than when using iPad technology. Taking into account the combination of a lack of a universal “undo” button, the potential for user-error (depending on the experience of the user) and the unlikely but certainly real risk of an application error, there is the small potential for catastrophe when depending solely on the iPad in jury selection. Finally, using this kind of technology takes considerable attention and focus to manage and therefore can potentially be a distraction in the jury selection process. This is not a technology that should be used by counsel who is conducting voir dire, as it certainly has the potential to divert attention away from the observation of jurors and the preparation of the next line of questioning.
With all of that said, there certainly seems to be a place for the iPad in your next jury selection. Maybe not as the sole tool for recording and storing juror information, but as an “add-on” in the hands of a trained associate, paralegal or legal assistant. This technology is constantly evolving and improving and in a short time it may become an essential tool in the jury selection process.
1 There are two jury selection applications currently available for the Apple iPad, both of which can be downloaded from the iTunes store: iJuror ($9.99) and Jury Tracker ($9.99). Click here for a review of both programs.
2 As anyone who has employed the paper seating chart and Post-it Note method knows, the information recorded never makes it back to the office without the loss or misplacement of more than one “note.”