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Jury Selection by iPad: A Review of iJuror

admin Dec 18,2013 Blog, News

ijurorAfter reading a couple of reviews about the iJuror app and noting its bargain price of $9.99, I decided to download it to my iPad and take it for a trial run at a recent jury selection. Overall, I was favorably impressed with iJuror’s performance and utility. It exceeded my expectations, especially when compared to the not-ready-for-primetime laptop jury selection software I tested 3 years ago. With iJuror, I was able to dispense with my traditional jury selection tools and use it exclusively to collect and display data that assisted everyone on the trial team throughout the jury selection process. iJuror needs a few more tweaks before it will be ready to rely on as a sole source of jury selection data, but it has great potential. Listed below is an overview of its best features and suggested improvements:

BEST FEATURES

  • Best feature is the ability to see an overview of the entire jury with number, names, and race demographics AND ratings, at a glance;
  • The program is intuitive and easy to use;
  • Data can be entered quickly, even without a Bluetooth keyboard;
  • All of the data entered can be emailed and printed during jury selection, if a printer is available;
  • The program has several options for entering juror data, including a “Quick Entry” option for entering gender, ethnicity and juror name only, and a more detailed screen for each individual juror;
  • My tip: If you change the status on a juror from “Don’t Know” to “Maybe” after counsel talks with a potential juror, you can track the jurors who counsel has not spoken with yet to make sure no jurors fly under the radar without talking; and
  • The program has the capability to share via Bluetooth, making it possible for more than one person to enter data (did not test this feature).

SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENTS

  • The courtroom room set up feature relies on evenly-numbered traditional rows, and to my knowledge, cannot be manipulated into configurations of odd numbered rows or perpendicular rows, as found in many courtrooms;
  • The “Juror Detail” selections are on spinners, which allows for quick data entry, but 11 of the 14 fields cannot be customized, which renders many of them useless. The user should be able to change all of the detail sections, as well as be able to edit the subsections;
  • The voting section should be separated from the “Juror Detail” screen and moved to the “Info Mode” screen. This would make it easier to change votes as questions are asked, instead of going through 2 screens to update information. Also, the user should be able to enter his/her own rating system and assign colors accordingly;
  • The set up for new trials should ask how many peremptory strikes were granted to each side so the program can track how many jurors are in still the “strike zone” in real time, as jurors are released;
  • There needs to be a separate text field to highlight information needed to move to strike for cause, and it would be helpful to be able to see something on the overview indicating which jurors have information typed in this field;
  • The program needs a text field to enter information about the jury selection process in that particular court, including notes about the Judge’s preferences and style, for future reference;
  • The Peremptory Strike lists needs to show juror numbers or names;
  • Instead of simply removing jurors from chairs after they are released for cause or by peremptory strike, it would be good to have the option of seeing a color-coded “X” over the juror’s seat. This will also allow the user to review the outcome of the jury selection at a glance for later reference. The current setup empties the chairs in case the jurors are physically moved to a different chair as jurors are released, but it would be nice to have the other option;
  • The program needs jury seats designated for alternates in addition to seated jurors;
  • The screen for editing multiple jurors at once is a nice start for tracking questions in which jurors raise hands to answer, but the user should be able to define the fields for it to be truly useful. At a minimum, it should include the 3 custom fields for data entry, if any are entered;
  • The stats section has a lot of room for improvement, but it’s a good start. First, the data needs to be exportable to an Excel file. In the Excel file, it would be helpful if each juror’s information included all of the data entered for him or her, including the final disposition after jury selection. Additionally, it would be helpful to include the following, for future reference: Type of court (Federal or State), location, Judge, and type of trial;
  • There needs to be a way to save a copy of the initial panel, before any strikes were made. This would allow a user to refer to recent panels in particular venues to see the jury demographic makeup for previous cases at a glance; and
  • The program has a bad habit of crashing. During the course of the 2 hour jury selection – when time was at a premium – it crashed 11 times, including a couple of times when whole iPad had to be rebooted. The only reason this wasn’t a deal killer for me was because after each time this happened the previous data had been saved. Thus it was an annoyance rather than a deal breaker.
Although my list of suggested improvements outnumber the best features, I would like to emphasize my support for this program. Also, we did not have a supplemental juror questionnaire filled out in advance of trial for this case, but if that information could be entered before a trial in the future….the value of this program would increase even without improvements. Bottomline: I think iJuror is about 75% ready, which is 100% better than the jury selection iPad app I had before, which was nothing.  Kudos to the developer, Scott Falbo. I hope he continues development of this product. New technology on the battlefield can be a good thing.
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