Outline App Offers Import Utility for Circus Ponies Notebooks

A rather nice little app called Outline is going to release an import utility for Circus Ponies Notebooks. Outline runs on Mac and iPads and, here’s the really nice part, works with Microsoft OneNote. Outline originated as an iOS app that could read-write to Microsoft OneNote. Originally, OneNote was not available on the iPad and this developer put together Outline as a solution for accessing, reading and editing OneNote files. The interface is better and more flexible in some ways than OneNote. Another benefit of Outline over OneNote is the built-in ability to create a hyperlinked hierarchical Table of Contents to all notebook sections and pages.Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 12.46.59 PM

Finally, Outline offers a very smooth export to PDF where OneNote just seems to make this task difficult.

Of course, Outline also works as a standalone app without using OneNote or Microsoft OneDrive and can sync via Dropbox, iCloud and Box. So, rejoice Notebook users, there is now an opportunity to breathe some life into your beloved notes. Although Outline is not free like OneNote, right now they’re offering a 30% discount for former Circus Ponies Notebook users. This is a great example of an indie developer seeing an opportunity and making the most of it. The importer is currently in beta testing and limited to sign up, but should be released soon.

Back to Basics – iPad eFiling

The last post identified iCab as a means for uploading, aka efiling, documents and  pleadings from your iPad. Folks have, however, struggled with some of the basics. Here’s a short picture story on how to get the job done.

1. From the app where the document resides, look for an arrow/box in the upper right corner. This is called the “Open In” button or dialog. Most apps are standardized on the iOS interface which locates it in the upper right corner. For example, with Dropbox it looks like this:

Step 1 Open Inv

2. Once you tap that open in button, scroll through your various apps until you locate iCab and tap that icon. iCab will no open and load the document you were looking at in the previous app.

Step 2 Choose iCab

3. Open a new tab in iCab and log in to your e-filing account. When you get to the button or dialog that requires you to select your pleading or document for upload, tap that button and iCab will display a list of available documents, including the document you just chose through the “Open In” dialog. Select that document and iCab should upload it to the e-filing portal. Your mileage may vary depending on the portal, but I’ve not had problems yet here in Utah.

Step 3 Login Upload

iPad: E-filing & Uploading Docs

As more and more lawyers adopt iPads, and more and more courts move to e-filing the question inevitably arises: How the ?>#!* do I upload that Motion to Kiss My Ass from my iPad?*

After researching the issue, not a lot of options exist for uploading documents from the iPad. The built in Safari web browser doesn’t support uploading to a website. PDF Expert, GoodReader and iAnnotate also lack the ability to log into an e-filing portal and upload. However, a $1.99 iPad browser called iCab does allow uploading for e-filing pleadings. I tested it with our local court e-filing here in Utah and with the Utah Federal iCab Efiling Web BrowserDistrict court ECF. It worked on both systems. As always, Your Mileage May Vary based on your particular jurisdiction and, of course, the substance and tone of your filing will neither be improved nor reduced by using iCab to e-file court documents.

* (See, Washington v. Alaimo, 934 F. Supp. 1395 (S.D. Ga. 1996)).

Siri, vCards and Private Me

Siri: Your Personal Assistant, But Maybe a Bit of a Blabber Mouth.

By now you probably know that you can tell Siri to “send a message to my wife” or “give me directions home” and she will do so. If not, she probably doesn’t yet know your wife or home address. So, tell Siri “My wife is [First Name] [Last Name].” The same, or similar, can be done for your home address.

Trouble begins when you go to share your business contact information by sending someone your vCard. Your contact card now also carries a whole bunch of info (home address, wife’s name, father’s name etc.) that you may not want to share with a professional colleague or client.

The solution lies in the Contacts app. Open up Contacts, Open Preferences and check the box that says “Enable private me card.” Now, open your personal card, click edit, and you can select the information you want to share or uncheck boxes next to information you wish to keep private.




Jury Selection or ‘Voir Dire’ With an iPad

The maturing iPad and iOS system offer a a number of approaches and apps for use in jury selection, or voir dire. Here’s a review of a relatively new player JuryPad, recent updates to JuryStar and reference to old standbys using a spreadsheet or Bento. One caveat to all of these methods for jury selection: During attorney conducted voir dire, you need someone running the iPad. Attempting to track juror responses and engage in a meaningful give and take with jurors during questioning while simultaneously operating an iPad is just too complicated. [March 15, 2013: Original post omitted coverage of iJuror, now covered below].

JuryPad: iPad App for Jury Selection – Review

JuryPad ($24.99) offers a fairly intuitive and standard iOS interface. Large icons and text make it easy to navigate. JuryPad uses a form input method for gathering juror information during selection process or pre-populating with information prior to selection if you are in a forum that allows access to jury pool names in advance.

JuryPad lets the user set the rows columns for the pool which is very nice because not all courtrooms have the same number of chairs/rows for holding the pool. The user can then place the jurors in the appropriate pool seat as they reflecting the actual courtroom layout visually. Each juror is represented by an avatar reflecting the sex and race of the individual juror. The inclusion of race in each avatar is a nice feature for Batson issues and giving a quick visual as to what is going on.

From the courtroom/pool screen, juror detail information can be quickly accessed, and you can complete any unanswered questions and fill in new information as it arises. From the layout screen it is also very easy to strike jurors for cause, as a peremptory by either side or chosen for being a member of the jury. JuryPad accommodates both the ‘seat and strike’ method as well as the method where all questioning is conducted prior to exercising strikes at a bench conference. When seating jurors, once the designated number of necessary jurors has been met, the app pops up a box telling the juror that the selection process is complete.

Visual cues are also included for jurors who have been stricken, but it would be better if the app indicated whether the strike was for cause or which side exercised the strike. Additionally, the ‘custom’ jury selection questions only allow for ‘yes-no’ type questions. This is probably the greatest problem for use in jury selection as open ended questions are the preferred method of eliciting information and opinions from jurors. Additionally, ‘custom’ jury selection question templates are an all or nothing approach. You must select a single set of custom questions to include in each trial. This is unfortunate because there are discreet issues in every trial which lend themselves to template based questioning, but which do not arise in all trials. For example, in a civil tort case, liability might be conceded but there is still a need to question regarding bias in deciding damages. It would be better if individual modules of custom jury selection questions could be added, rather than being forced to pick one long outline.

Last, JuryPad offers the ability to share a single trial with other trial team members. Allowing one team member to create the basic jury selection plan and share it with all others is a smart move and an easy way keep everyone on the same page.

JuryStar: iPad App for Jury Selection

JuryStar ($39.99) has been around longer than JuryPad. The app was originally considered for review on release in December of 2011. Unfortunately, JuryStar used a ‘locked’ jury grid which made the app useless for anything other than the seat and strike method, and even that was questionable considering that jury rows and number of chairs vary from courtroom to courtroom. Several updates from the developer have cured this original limitation, allowing customization of the number of rows and columns for juror pool seating.

Unlike JuryPad, the app does offer a more flexible load of ‘custom’ voir dire questions. And, individual modules of questions can be loaded in as necessary. JuryStar also uses a ‘slider’ to rate jurors on each area of questioning. The slider compliments and makes possible open ended questions resulting in a more natural  information flow during of voir dire. As information is gathered and jurors rated, the rating summary at the bottom of the jury box changes to reflect the bias of the potential juror. For example, the rating for each area of questioning is displayed in the juror’s box, i.e. an abbreviation for SPD reflecting attitudes about special damages displays a number -5 through +5 and provides a total of all question areas at the bottom. The app also provides a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ button which changes the color of the box from yellow to red or green. JuryStar gives the lawyer an easy reference to raise strikes for cause and intelligently exercise peremptories.

When exercising strikes, the juror is removed from the pool and placed in a box reflecting peremptory us, them or court stricken. The undo button, however, can be a bit finicky. During use, the undo button only works for the last juror stricken and stops working altogether if you go back to the voir dire screen. A small mistake here could lock you into a pool that does not accurately reflect the strikes and completely derail the setup in JuryStar.

JuryStar gets a bit hung up on the user interface end. The app is a little bit unintuitive and is not iOS standard. Accordingly, there is a bit more of a learning curve with JuryStar. Additionally, JuryStar operates only in portrait mode with no rotation to take advantage of the wider screen in landscape.


Overall, it’s a tough call as to which app is better. JuryPad wins not only on price, but also ease of use. JuryStar wins on feedback, ability to rate jurors during voir dire, and custom question templates but loses ground for it’s interface and undo function. Both would be recommended in the absence of any other approach and both certainly excel over the old scribbled notes on yellow legal pad method.

iJuror: iPad App for Jury Selection

Almost immediately after posting, the developer of iJuror contacted me asking to include that app in this post as well. iJuror ($19.99) provides many of the same features discussed above. But, iJuror offers just about the best over-all summary/visual feedback for rating each juror. Both color and rating can be made to appear, as well as race/sex on each individual juror. The panel can be customized and, best of all, roulette style pickers can be customized as well for quick data entry during selection on important key issues. While offering some benefits over JuryStar and JuryPad, iJuror is somewhat confusing in layout and user-interface. There are two modes for jurors, info and note, yet the notes field is contained in the info mode while none of the detailed demographic and stock info is detailed in the note mode. Additionally, answer space for custom text questions is limited to only about a single sentence. Exercising strikes is relatively easy, and jurors can be placed in the box by drag and drop. The app also offers two additional ‘in-app’ purchases: Juror Scoring ($4.99) and Juror Behavior ($9.99) which expand the capability of the app beyond initial voir dire and selection.

Old Standbys for iPad Jury Selection

There are also a few old standbys for jury selection. The spreadsheet method, which still gets used from time to time, can be easily modified to incorporate a wide variety of issues and circumstances. Numbers on the iPad is a simple, easy to use spreadsheet app and can easily adapt to creating a jury selection template. It’s not that great, but it’ll do in a pinch. There’s also this old but simple Bento approach to jury selection developed here on MacLitigator some years ago. The Bento template is still my preferred method to this day mainly because of the filters built in which allow marking jurors as those to be stricken (either peremptory or for-cause) and then viewed as a final panel. JuryPad and JuryStar, however, are both getting very close to replacing that old Bento approach.

Trial Notebook iPad App – Review

TabLit recently released Trial Notebook ($69.99), an app aimed at making trial preparation easier and more organized for lawyers. The app is a great concept with a good start, but is still a bit rough around the edges and a bit of a learning curve as it took about 2 hours to become familiarized and comfortable working with the app.

Trial Notebook Concept

Any lawyer who has taken more than a few cases to trial is familiar with the concept of a trial notebook. Everything that matters gets placed into the three or two ring binder ‘notebook’ and neatly organized by tabs. Though each lawyer may have their own preferences, the basics in a civil case usually include tabs for: Case Info/Summary; To-Do List; Witnesses; Jury Selection; Jury Instruction; Damages; Exhibits; Pleadings/Orders; Opening; and, Closing.

Making the Trial Notebook Electronic – iPad

The iPad begs to be used as an electronic version of the trial notebook. Transitioning the trial notebook concept to the tablet platform makes perfect sense. TabLit’s approach takes the standard concept of a trial notebook and adds in the features which would be expected of an electronic version, including word search for the entire notebook. In each ‘tab,’ Trial Notebook allows creation of two main types of page: outline mode or checklist mode. In addition there are two other types of page: a ‘document’ based page and a ‘contacts’ based page. The contacts page will pull info from iOS Contacts. However, it is a bit unpolished in use because it doesn’t allow searching or sorting of iOS contacts, making it virtually impossible to locate the contact you want to add to your trial notebook.

Trial Notebook currently allows Dropbox integration in a ‘download’ only mode with no two-way sync. Documents, including images, PDFs, and Word docs all download fine and are viewable in the app. In fact, Trial Notebook was extremely fast and stable while downloading an entire set of folders and subfolders on a complex litigation case that is just weeks shy of a jury trial, including a prior trip up the appellate court ladder. Many other apps have choked and crashed trying to download data this large from Dropbox. PDFs are not indexed even if they have been OCR’d, only text within the app shows up in searches. The app also includes the ability to track the admission of exhibits, i.e. documents are added from the main library to an ‘Evidence’ or ‘Exhibits’ page and they can be check-boxed (customizable). The developers plan to include two-way Dropbox sync as well as PDF annotation in a not-too-distant release. A premium pay-to-use service is also in the work. The service allows staff to collaborate and add items to a notebook via an online interface. Allowing staff to modify and add items through a web-based interface at the office and sync those directly down to the iPad is a good idea for attorneys on the go.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is the ability to pick an item from anywhere else in the notebook and drop it on the page you are currently viewing. So, in use, you could include a reference to an exhibit within a witness examination outline and the reference would also pull the checkboxes for admitted/denied. At that point in the examination, after moving admission, you could then check the appropriate box and the check would also be reflected on the main exhibit list page. Checklist items (for example for elements of proof) could be used in the same fashion. Additionally, tapping the hyperlink will jump you directly to the referenced item. Unfortunately, there is no plan to allow presentation of the exhibit via an AppleTV or VGA adapter cable. Also, beware: there is no ‘back’ button or recent item navigation so it may make it hard to find your way back to the examination outline in the middle of trial.

Text formatting on the outline pages is a bit odd, with icons that are pixelated and reminiscent of Word ’95. Additionally, there are many spots in the app that, from a user interface standpoint, are just plain silly. For example, when creating a New Checklist type page, you are presented with the option to save or discard the new page via an ‘X’ button or save via a ‘floppy disc’ icon…. Really. A floppy disc icon on an iPad.

Picking nits aside, the app really is a great concept and the developers are very responsive. As the app matures and further develops these 1.0 bumps will, no doubt, be resolved. If you don’t already have a system in place for an electronic trial notebook (such as Circus Ponies Notebook; OmniOutliner; PDF based or otherwise), TabLit’s Trial Notebook could provide you a useful starting point.


Bento Upgrade – No Contact Syncing

Bento is a great application for everything from tracking client info to conducting jury selection/voir dire. But, when is an update/upgrade not an upgrade? The new Bento iPad is a significant upgrade over the prior version. To get the improved iPad version and still sync data with your Mac, you need to update the desktop version of Bento. However, doing so eliminates the connection between desktop Bento and the Contacts app under Mountain Lion. Here’s how to keep syncing Contacts with Bento all the way around.

Bento – 4.1x – Address Book, Contacts and Sync

When syncing with iPad for the first time, the latest update to Bento tells you that “Your Bento Address Book library did not sync with your iPad. To sync this data with your iPad, you must migrate your Bento Address Book library to a new Bento Contacts library. This new Bento Contacts library will not be linked to your Mac OS X Address Book. This cannot be undone.”

An ominous sounding warning and one which drove me from ‘migrating’ my Bento address book on my Mac. Bento is a handy address book editor… it can be used to edit a good deal of Address Book (now “Contacts” under Mountain Lion) in short order. Bento can slice and dice Contacts in a powerful manner with sorts, fields filter etc. Losing this ability in order to sync Contacts with iPad is inexplicable but may have something to do with the impending sandboxing. Here’s the trick to reject this migration, maintain an ability to edit Contacts in Mac Bento, and have everything sync to your iPad.

  • First of all, don’t migrate. It cannot be undone to my knowledge.
  • Second of all, reject the offer to migrate and hit the “Don’t show this again” checkbox.
  • Third, on your iPad, add a new library, choose Contacts, and choose “Sync Address Book contacts.”

The net effect of this approach forces Bento iPad to pull your contacts info from your iOS Contacts database. But, Bento for Mac still syncs directly with Contacts on the Mac. So, any changes made to the Contacts on the Mac go up to iCloud, down to your iOS device and across to Bento. It’s unclear if this will continue to work down the road and YMMV. It’s deplorable that Filemaker and Apple cannot reconcile this issue in a less convoluted manner. Bento 4.1.x on the Mac actually has less functionality as a result of an ‘update.’

Rulebook Updated – 1Ls and Citation Geeks Rejoice

Just in time for back-to-school, The Bluebook is now available on your iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch as an in-app purchase through rulebook. The Bluebook is a uniform system of legal citation force fed to first year law students and relied upon by citation junkies everywhere. Serious legal writers and experienced lawyers also use The Bluebook to maintain their credibility with the recent law grads who clerk at the courts since these new grads firmly believe that anyone who fails to cite in compliance with The Bluebook knows nothing about the law. The in-app purchase is the same price as a hard copy, but just try searching hard copy for the proper format for Commercial Recordings so that you can correctly cite Don Henley, The Boys of Summer, on Building the Perfect Beast (Geffen Records 1984).

Touchfire Keyboard for iPad

A long, long time ago, I pitched in on a Kickstarter project for a rubberized keyboard overlay for the iPad. The concept attempts to solve one of the biggest problems for touch typists and typing on the iPad, namely, the inability to lay your fingers on the virtual onscreen keyboard without initiating input. The Touchfire Keyboard for iPad seems to solve some this main problem but, as can be imagined, a rubber on top of a touch screen interface does feel a bit unnatural… it just feels better if there is skin on surface rather than an artificial barrier between you and the one you touch. But, such is the price to be paid if you want to avoid unintended typing on virtual keyboards.

A Screentop Touch Keyboard For The iPad

The Touchfire keyboard is an interesting experience. Although there are more typing errors than with a real keyboard, the ability to actually rest your fingers on the keypads provides a more tactile experience. The J and K keys have the traditional bumps, so you can find your way quickly to the resting position. Although the keys are raised, there is practically no pressure bump when depressing the keys.

This keyboard will come in handy if you need to do a lot of typing on your iPad in an environment where the dictation feature is not an option such as on a plane, in a meeting. Using the Touchfire keyboard is certainly preferable to trying to use just the onscreen display. However, it is not an ideal solution for long term use as you’d be better off switching to a Bluetooth keyboard or moving to your laptop. But, as a lightweight keyboard which requires no power supply, and takes up virtually no space, it seems that it may have hit a sweet spot.

The keyboard is held in place by magnets which work with the iPad magnets to keep it in place. There are small metal bumps provided along with 3M adhesive which stick to an Apple Smart Cover. Those metal bumps then match to magnets not the keyboard itself. Together, the keyboard can then either be left magnetically attached to the iPad for use, or retracted back with the Smart Cover to get out of the way. The keyboard stays in place really well while on the iPad for typing, yet unclips easily due to this magnetic set up. The Touchfire’s ability to move out of the way by attaching to and rolling up with Apple’s Smart Cover combine with thin and light materials to make it an unobtrusive and easy to carry accessory. However, the magnetic clip also increases the width slightly and tends to slip, cycling the iPad on and off if it is set to unlock the screen when opening a Smart Cover.

Typing accuracy is nowhere near that of an actual keyboard, but is efficient enough to make you suddenly realize the limitations of the onscreen keyboard, such as having to touch and hold the “!/,” key in order to get an apostrophe or the “?/.” key to get double quotes and you can completely forget about typing out numbers with any speed. But, of course, these are limitations of an onscreen keyboard which are simply made more glaring by the efficiency of the Touchfire keyboard.

Overall, the Touchfire is a bit of a niche iPad accessory. At $49.99 it is a bit steeply priced, by way of example a casual iPad user saw it and guessed the price to be around $10-$15. But, if this niche fits for you, it might be worth picking one up.

App Review: rulebook – Electronic Legal Rules on the iPad

Remember that old Rules of Evidence book you have laying around with the stickies hanging off the side, notes scribbled in the margins and highlighting on important language? A new app developer has put out an app that gets oh-so-close to recreating that book on your iPad. Best of all, when the rule gets updated, all your annotations get transferred to the new rule.

Annotating Rules of Evidence, Civil Procedure etc. in ‘rulebook.’

The app allows you to add bookmarks, highlights (limited to a single color throughout your rule sets) and notes. All of these items ‘stick’ whenever the rule gets re-written or updated. Notes, highlights and bookmarks can be seen in a summary pane so you can quickly jump to those sections. A hand-annotated Federal Rules of Evidence hardbound copy will eventually become obsolete through re-writes of the rules, forcing you to hand transfer your notes over to a new book. rulebook attempts to correct that problem by carrying over your annotations to the new rule set.

And, it almost gets there. Recently the Utah Rules of Appellate procedure received an update. Some language was altered, some language was deleted and moved to a new section. Testing indicated that, where the language was merely altered, the annotations stuck. But, with the deleted and moved language, the annotations themselves were lost, although the Bookmark/Note/Highlight still shows in the summary pane.

User Interface on rulebook

It is both a bright future, and still a bit quirky when it comes to the interface. Rulebook uses the standard iPad interface with items in the left pane and content on the right. The unique feature is the ability to open multiple rules in a separate ‘window’ in the right pane. This works for cross-referenced rules as well. So, reading Utah R. Evid. 608’s cross-reference to Utah R. Evid. 403, tapping on the hyperlinked ‘Rule 403’ opens a new pane, allowing you to read the reference without losing your place.

There are, however, a few quirks. Quickly jumping back and forth between rules, closing rule sets and opening new rules led to a freeze on one of the windows. Also, while the navigation is unique, it can feel a bit odd at times. A tabbed interface alá Safari/Firefox might be more intuitive for displaying the cross-referenced rule.

Finally, the app does include a decent search feature which allows searching for a Phrase, All Words or Any Word, no boolean yet. The nice part about the search feature is that the results pane pulls up individual sub-sections of a single rule, allowing you to quickly get to the relevant section in a long rule as opposed to hunting around. The search pane results also tell you the number of hits in each result. Unfortunately, there is no next-previous search hit function and you are forced to return to the search pane to jump around.

Right now, rule sets are only available for the Federal courts, California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Nersey, New York, Texas and Utah. The Federal Rules of Evidence are free so you can get a feel for the app and decide if it’s something that fits for you. Other rule sets are very reasonably priced at at .99¢ each. If you are lucky enough to live in one of the currently covered jurisdictions, rulebook is well worth picking up and using. The developer is a practicing attorney and uses his own app on a daily basis. Speaking with him recently, there are some really big plans behind the app and things in the works. rulebook should get much better with time.