iPad & OSX Apps for Appeals

Working with the iPad at oral argument before an appellate court, trial court or other hearing cuts down on killing trees while keeping all information at your fingers. Rather than print out reams of pleadings and argument outlines, the iPad can display all the information you need, but it takes a bit of work to ditch the three ring binder.  Here are the apps, both iPad and Mac OS X, that will get you there.

OmniOutliner/Circus Ponies Notebook

Drafting argument outlines in a dedicated outliner works far better than the 1998 method of turning on outlining mode in Word. Both OmniOutliner and Circus Ponies Notebook (CPN) provide not only excellent outlining tools, but the ability to ‘attach’ your pleadings, exhibits, deposition transcripts etc. directly within the outline as a PDF file. For purposes of getting an outline onto the iPad, CPN provides the better approach until OmniGroup releases OmniFocus for iPad sometime this summer.

Circus Ponies is much deeper than a simple outliner.  Hyperlinks can jump across the entire notebook to cross reference other related items on different pages. Additionally, CPN provides a robust indexing of the entire notebook and advanced sorting and flagging features. Finally, and crucial to getting all this info onto your iPad. CPN offers two key export methods. First, the entire notebook can be exported to PDF with both page numbers and chapter-page numbers.  Second, the entire notebook, PDF attachments included can be exported as a website. That means that CPN will export your notebook as a fully hyperlinked document with PDF images, functioning expand/collapse arrows on the outline and any tabs added to the side as a self sufficient website.  From CPN choose File>Export as a Website>To Disk.  It’s easiest to do this if you create a ‘temp’ folder on your desktop and save the file there.  CPN kicks out an index.html file and a few folders.  Double click the index.html folder and you’ll open the notebook in Safari/Firefox.  Getting that notebook-as-website on your iPad and functioning is the next step.

Air Sharing HD

Air Sharing HD is the most direct method and highly recommended independent of this exercise.  Air Sharing HD creates a network connected hard drive accessible from your Mac.  Following theinstructions for the software gets you a mounted hard drive on the iPad where you can then drag and drop documents and folders through Finder.  Take the ‘temp’ folder from your desktop containing your Notebook as website and drag it to the iPad mounted hard drive. Next, from within Air Sharing HD, open that temp folder and tap on ‘index.html’ and your complete notebook opens. Tapping on any of the links, tabs or pages works just like a click.  Additionally, you get any PDFs saved inside the outline and, tapping on those PDFs opens them in full screen mode. Hit the ‘back’ button and your back to your outline.

A Second Method: iAnnotate PDF Approach

Another approach uses strictly PDFs. After composing an outline, print the file as a PDF. Then using iAnnotate, ‘import’ those documents. iAnnotate has a ‘server’ application that resides on your Mac. Designate a folder, and iAnnotate will upload all PDFs contained in that folder. This allows you to load not only your argument outline, but also related pleadings and documents. Most importantly, iAnnotate provides a tabbed interface, allowing you to switch back and forth between documents quickly. It is especially helpful that iAnnotate allows searching within a PDF if the document has been OCR’d. In testing, iAnnotate handled a 422 page record on appeal, two 40 page appellate briefs, the argument outline and a few pages of Utah Code Annotated with no problems. By contrast, using Air Sharing HD with CPN, opening the 422 page record on appeal as a PDF was noticeably laggy and slow, although it handled shorter documents just fine. Tablet Legal recently covered iAnnotate’s features in detail.

Both approaches are a bit of a kludge in terms of loading the iPad. Still, it remains much easier and more environmentally friendly than the old three ring binder approach.

8 thoughts on “iPad & OSX Apps for Appeals

  1. I really love CP Notebook. But those export processes…eesh. I would like to see CP on iPad (or iPhone) that doesn’t require all the workarounds. Maybe an app? So far, all calls for an app or a cloud solution from CP has been rebuffed. CP will simply reference your aforementioned processes as a simple solution. But that is really a pain for each case file. And if you update the file, the export is obsolete.

    If someone does it as well as CP and I can get it on my iPad, I will be moving on. But I would much rather see CP catch up with the times.

  2. Don’t you guys have laptops? All the bells and whistles and so much more. More love for the macbook air.

  3. Just followed your lead and used my iPad to argue a Motion in NC Buisness Court. Im still learning but it went well. Case law was right at my fingertips. Thanks for the good info.

  4. It’s important to find out if your appellate courthouse will permit use of computing devices in oral argument. Soon after I got my iPad, I was discussing it with a couple of California appellate justices. A justice of the 2nd DCA here in Los Angeles noted that attorneys aren’t permitted to bring in iPads or other computers without permission from the clerk’s office. The concern is that folks in the courtroom might use laptops to “hack” into the computers the justices use during argument.

  5. I just used CP to prepare my MSJ argument. My outline consisted of 30 documents and over 500 pages of pdfs. I synced CP with my ipad through Air Sharing HD. The notebook came through perfectly and was very snappy in court. The only thing I would ask for is a “jump to page” button or faster way to skip to the end of a long document.

  6. iAnnotate seems to handle large PDFs much more smoothly than Air Sharing. iAnnotate also lets you put in bookmarks and other annotations and provides a toolbar for quick ‘jumps’ to any of those bookmarks or annotations. Also, the ability to open multiple PDFs in tabs within iAnnotate is extremely helpful. Downside being that you must convert CPN to a PDF to use iAnnotate and you lose the collapsible outline and jump links.

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