JuryPad for iPad Review

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Voir dire is one of the more difficult aspects of trial, and it isn’t easy to do well. While the purpose and process of voir dire has evolved over the years, the mechanics are stuck in the last century.

We have a number of good apps to help trial lawyers present evidence and depositions to a jury (TrialPad, ExhibitView, Exhibit A), but most trial lawyers still use some combination of a legal pad and sticky notes or index cards for voir dire.

Surely someone, somewhere, has come up with a whiz-bang app that will let you focus on your questions and the jurors’ responses rather than the mechanics of getting your notes down so you can intelligently exercise challenges for cause and peremptory challenges, right?

Up until now, the jury selection apps out there are, to put it bluntly, crap. Absolute crap. They seem to have some things in common:

  • Cartoonish graphics and interfaces
  • An emphasis on demographics, implying that demographics are the most important factors in picking a jury
  • Glorified note taking apps

I’ve checked out every new jury selection app when it comes out and not one has been worth buying. But now, there is a a new entry: JuryPad.

It’s important to know that JuryPad is not an application from Lit Software, LLC, the company that brought us TrialPad and TranscriptPad, top notch apps that have quickly become the go-to apps in their categories. So, naming the app JuryPad would seem to be a cheesy attempt to ride TrialPad’s coat tails. Personally, that strikes me as a crappy thing to do.

Now, for the app itself.

The Good

The interface is clean, simple and uncluttered. For the most part, it seems free of cartoonish graphics. The app comes pre-populated with a sample DUI trial, complete with a jury pool, basic voir dire and what they call “custom voir dire.” You have the ability to create additional sets of custom voir dire questions, which is definitely a step beyond the basic demographic questions available in most of the other jury selection applications. If you click “yes” next to any of the custom voir dire questions, these questions are displayed within each juror’s individual profile, along with basic demographic information as well as information about residence, employment and whether they are related to court staff, insurance adjusters, lawyers, medical or law enforcement personnel. All good basic information that, for the most part, is probably going to be supplied on the basic juror questionnaire most courts have jurors fill out.

It also has a feature which links the juror’s address to Google Maps. When you click on the juror’s address it launches Safari and brings up the map for their home address. I can see where this would be helpful, particularly in criminal cases where you might want to know whether the juror leaves near the scene of the crime to determine if they might have independent knowledge of the area. This would also be helpful in the same way for accident cases. You might also be able to make a judgment about the juror’s basic socio-economic status based on where they live in some jurisdictions. With Google you can even get a view of a photo of their home.

At the end, you are given a nice graphic that shows your seated jury. Just in case you forget what the lady in the back row who has been sleeping through most of the trial does.

The Bad

Well, maybe I shouldn’t say bad. More like just plain “why” on some of these things.

Like most of the jury selection apps available, JuryPad focuses inordinately on juror demographics: race, age and sex. It isn’t that these things aren’t irrelevant, it is just that, at least in the civil trial work I do, they simply aren’t the most relevant information. And therein lies the “why.” JuryPad seems to assume that this information will be very important and puts a lot of its resources, and consequently your time and focus, on demographics.

Now, particularly in criminal cases, Batson challenges based on race and sex are important. And maybe that is the focus for JuryPad: criminal attorneys. If so, then I wouldn’t be that critical. But obviously it is intended for use in all trial work.  And this information simply isn’t as important in other trials as it is in criminal trials. But the reality is most attorneys don’t focus their time on criminal trials and the nifty pie chart graphics breaking down the jury by race, gender, age, etc. simply isn’t going to be that important.

Navigation is less than ideal as well. The sample jury supplied has 60 potential jurors in the pool. That is a pretty typical size, but certainly not as large as some jury pools can get. But even navigating this size jury pool doesn’t seem like it is going to be easy to do in the heat of voir dire. The only way to access an individual juror is by scrolling through the juror list. The only way to get to your custom voir dire questions is by tapping on an individual juror. This implies that you are going to go through the list of jurors, one by one, asking them the questions on the list. If that is how it is done in your jurisdiction, then this is fine. But in many, if not most, jurisdictions, the better practice is to ask questions of the panel as a whole and then focus on the individual juror’s responses, if any.

Also, like other jury selection apps, JuryPad has only one area for notes on a given juror. And to access that note section you have to tap on the individual juror and then either tap “edit juror” and scroll down to the notes section or tap on “custom voir dire” and scroll down to the notes section. Not a big deal if your custom voir dire consists of only 7 questions, as in the sample that comes with the app. But my voir dire outlines run to dozens of questions. And simply answering those custom questions yes or no isn’t going to give me the information and detail I need in order to successfully argue a challenge for cause. No, that kind of detail is going to have to be typed into the “notes” section.

I spent a lot of time going through JuryPad thinking “why?” Why do you want to be able to record a “prediction” of which way the juror will vote? Why can you record what jurors are stricken, but not be able to come up with a list of jurors that you want to strike or strike for cause. Why can’t you edit the basic voir dire questions?

 The Verdict

At the end, JuryPad suffers from the same problems that all the other jury selection apps out there seem to have: it focuses on a simplistic view of jury selection for simple trials. They all seem to be rather glorified note taking applications. And the reality, at least for me, is that I don’t have time to type in detailed notes during voir dire. A successful jury selection app will link short notes to a detailed voir dire outline so that I can type a few words be able  to remember the juror’s answer to a question that will form the basis for that important challenge for cause. JuryPad simply doesn’t give me the tools I need to conduct an effective voir dire.

Sorry JuryPad, I simply don’t think you’ve found the answer.

Score

JuryPad for iPad

Reviewed by Todd Hendrickson on .

Summary: JuryPad, the latest iPad jury selection application for lawyers, simply doesn’t give a trial lawyer the tools to conduct an effective voir dire.

Overall score: 2 (out of 5)

(image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/6972691660/sizes/z/)

Legal Technology

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  • http://www.autoaccident.com/ Robert

    Anyone know of an equivalent to ExhibitView for Android? Not seeing one. Thanks

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      I would be surprised to find many robust apps like this in the Google Play store.

  • http://benchandbarllc.com/ Stephan Futeral

    After receiving so many glowing reviews about JuryPad, I suppose it was only a matter of time before we encountered a “nay-sayer.” Before you rely on this review instead of judging JuryPad for yourself, then please note the following:

    1) JuryPad works in ALL jurisdictions and in ALL types of cases regardless of whether the lawyers OR the court conducts voir dire and whether voir dire is directed to a group OR to individual jurors.

    2) The app will show demographics to help you spot whether the pool meets the “fair cross section requirement.” If demographics aren’t important to you, then no worries – don’t tap the demographics button!

    3) In most jurisdictions, Batson challenges occur in both criminal AND civil cases. Therefore, JuryPad gives you an easy way to analyze each parties’ use of peremptory challenges.

    4) Individual juror information can be accessed by scrolling through the jury list OR by tapping the juror on the seating chart.

    5) You CAN display a list of jurors you want to challenge. Simply sort the jurors by your rating, lowest to highest.

    6) Juror notes CAN be accessed directly by tapping the “Edit Juror Notes” button.

    7) Oftentimes lawyers and jury consultants predict juror outcomes so that the lawyer can tailor closing arguments, etc. to those particular jurors. The feature is there for those who need it.

    8) Development on JuryPad began in February 2010, a month after the iPad was first introduced, at which time we settled on the name “JuryPad.” After all, it is “jury” selection on an i”Pad,” right? It was not long before many apps used the term “pad” such as SketchPad, DrawingPad, ChorePad, NotesPad, GeometryPad, MyPad, FacePad, and so on. Surely we do not get an A+ in originality for using the term “pad” but I suppose the same is true of TrialPad, TranscriptPad, and so on!

    To create the best jury selection app possible, we have incorporated many features at our users’ requests including features that apparently are foreign to (or of little use to) Mr. Hendrickson’s practice. We thank everyone for helping to make JuryPad a success, and please keep those suggestions coming!

    Best wishes,

    Stephan Futeral, Esq.
    Bench & Bar, LLC
    Chief Architect of JuryPad

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      Can you link to some of the glowing reviews you have in mind? I didn’t see any actual reviews besides ours when I tried Googling “jurypad review”; just the usual “JuryPad is an app and it does things” posts.

      In the App Store, you have a total of 7 reviews, none of which give me much confidence that the reviewer has actually paid for the app, used it in trial, or has the requisite experience to judge an app intended for use at trial.

  • http://benchandbarllc.com/ Stephan Futeral

    Sam, when I Google “JuryPad reviews,” the first on my list (before Mr. Hendrickson’s) is the MacLawyer who wrote “If you are a trial lawyer who regularly works with juries, you owe it to yourself to take a look at this fantastic easy to learn and easy to use app.” http://www.themaclawyer.com/2013/02/software/jurypad-jury-selection-app-for-ipad/

    Also, my Google search shows a review by trial technologist Ted Brooks who wrote “JuryPad is a great new iPad app . . . which is one of the cleanest and most efficient apps available for voir dire (jury selection).” http://trial-technology.blogspot.com/2013/02/whats-up-with-trial-technology.html

    My Google search also listed one I had not yet seen by the MacLitigator who wrote about the many good features of JuryPad and also offered very thoughtful insights as to ways to improve upon the app (which we pay attention to in future releases). http://www.maclitigator.com/

    Hope that helps you get started in your Google search for other reviews regarding JuryPad!

    Best wishes,
    Stephan Futeral, Esq.
    Bench & Bar, LLC
    Chief Architect – JuryPad

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      I think you would be well-advised to take Todd’s criticisms under advisement. It seems to me that he gave your app closer consideration than the reviewers you mentioned, and that he has at least as much trial experience to draw from in making his evaluation.

  • http://benchandbarllc.com/ Stephan Futeral

    Actually Sam, the MacLitigator’s review appears to be the most comprehensive with screenshots and comparisons to other jury selection apps. Indeed, my team is meeting next week to discuss how to incorporate many of the suggestions made in that review. Also, the MacLawyer covered many of JuryPad’s features which were not discussed in Mr. Hendrickson’s review. Nevertheless, we will certainly give Mr. Hendrickson’s review the consideration it deserves.

    Enjoy the remainder of your weekend, and good luck with your next jury trial!

  • http://www.hendricksonlaw.com Todd Hendrickson

    I didn’t expect the developer of JuryPad to like my review. But let me tell you about myself–I’ve been practicing law for almost 25 years. I had my first jury trial, in federal court, 6 months after passing the bar. I’ve never been one to keep track of how many cases I’ve tried, but let’s just say I’ve tried my share. For the last 10+ years I’ve primarily done medical malpractice cases. These are complex cases and, I believe, often won or lost in jury selection. I spend a lot of time doing voir dire, thinking about it and planning for it. Uncovering juror bias is a difficult thing to do and I work at it, study it, practice it.

    That said, the mechanics of voir dire are complicated. There is a lot going on. And having a really good record of what a juror said in response to a question is critical to successfully challenging jurors for cause. I’d really like there to be a good iPad app to make the mechanics of recording what I’m doing simpler. After all, I usually can’t read my own handwriting 5 minutes after I’ve made a note.

    But I’m sorry, your app just doesn’t do it. It doesn’t provide for the complexity of questioning that is necessary in modern voir dire.

    And as for you naming the app JuryPad, it doesn’t matter when you started developing it. You only recently released the app. Whether intentional or not, naming your app “JuryPad” infers that your app is in the TrialPad family of apps. And it isn’t. Granted, the jury selection app landscape is so clutter with crap that the logical names are pretty much all used up by junk that isn’t worth downloading for free.

  • Michael

    Here is my google search – I searched for a trial app, and I found this article. I figured “what the hell, I’ll buy it.” That is, until I continued on to the comments. The “Chief Architect” response is 100% why I’m not buying this app. How could anyone believe that comment is good for business?