Assuming my habeas corpus motion will be denied, I’m picking my first jury in about six weeks. Pretty scary stuff. I’ve started preparing my trial binder, and while I am otherwise paperless, I am using a real binder. No apps, just good, old-fashioned paper with a three-ring binder and lots of dividers. But there are good reasons to ditch tech when it comes to trial.
The courtrooms in my county all have big flat-screen TVs on wheels, but that is where the technology ends. There is no Wi-Fi, and outlets are at a premium. This means if I wanted to use my laptop, I’d have to bring an extra battery just in case. I would also have to lay my laptop or iPad on the ground next to the TV, or else wheel it over to the counsel table. Neither is logistically feasible (or worth the annoyance, really). I will have my iPad at counsel table for notes, but that’s about it.
Paper Binders are Easy to Organize
There are over a thousand pages of police reports, eyewitness statements, bank records, etc. in this case. So I scanned the discovery productions in two batches and made them searchable. But naming each document individually or in groups would take a ton of time. So instead I’m organizing a traditional trial notebook.
With paper, I can easily just put all the pages in order by date and then divide them by witness. I will create a cheat sheet of cross-references (no easy task either), and then I’m done. With my digital OCD I would have needed to create a descriptive name for each document, then filed it for the witness, then figured out how to make sure I could access it quickly at trial.
Too Many New Things
Since this will be my first jury trial, I’m naturally terrified. But one thing I don’t want to be terrified of is something breaking. This isn’t a complicated trial. I don’t have any videos or cool graphics to show the jury. There are no depositions I need to display on a screen while I impeach a witness.
There is software to do all of those things. I am looking forward to trying it out and getting familiar with the various trial software options in the coming months and years. But not in the month between now and trial. I know how paper works. It’s easy. I’ve been using it my whole life. And it never runs out of batteries.
Originally published 2013-01-16. Last updated 2016-03-16.