Fresh off my recent list of jury selection apps that left me a little bit underwhelmed, I stumbled across a brand new one in the Apple App Store: Jury Selection for iPad. Offering a free 10-day trial, I figured it was worthwhile to take a look and see if this new app offered solutions to any of the problems I identified with the other available selections.
Jury Selection for iPad bills itself as being able to make jury selection “more efficient and effective!” Unfortunately, although it certainly possesses a handsome main screen of a courtroom, with several open seats, Jury Selection for iPad falls short of its claims.
Jury Selection for iPad’s advertisement suggests that its features will allow users to “spend more time focusing on the panel” and less time “fumbling around with handwritten notes and/or charts.” However, in its initial offering, it falls far short of most of the other existing jury selection apps on the market.
Key Feature: Main Courtroom Screen
Jury Selection for iPad does boast a very nice display of the courtroom and, once you have input information about the individual jurors, a relatively handy ability to access the notes for each juror without leaving the main screen, including access to a 3-level preference indicator (like – neutral – don’t like). The panels are adjustable for size and shape, and the app also allows you to adjust the seating in the veneer from one side of the courtroom to the other, to match the setup of whatever courthouse you’re in.
Fatal Flaw(s): Several
1) Juror information input is clumsy, ineffective, and buggy.
First, the app itself has a relatively clumsy input interface for juror information. The only information you are able to directly input into pre-arranged categories are 1) Juror ID # (which does NOT mean final seating number, I learned), 2) first name, 3) last name, 4) occupation, 5) age, 6) address, 7) race, and 8) gender. While there is a large box below for “Notes,” there is no other place to enter any kind of biographical information about the juror. While this information (at least the age, gender, and ethnicity questions) allow for the program to seat some color/age-coded individuals in your main-screen jury box, it serves little other purpose.
Although the graphical interface is certainly nice, it took me about three seconds to be really annoyed by a strange bug in the page: none of the data input lines (which are all text-based) capitalize at the beginning! Type something in the Notes box, and it’s automatically capitalized. Type in someone’s first name, and you’ll have to manually change to “CAPS.” It seems so silly, but it was definitely enough to get on my nerves after entering three jurors’ info.
2) There is no option anywhere in the app for storing pre-written questions.
By missing on this key point, which most other apps have recognized as probably the first aspect to address, Jury Selection for iPad has already guaranteed that I’ll have to use at least one other thing, be it a legal pad or whatever, to conduct my voir dire. The substitution, in this case, is being able to enter notes on each juror directly from the main courtroom screen. Although it’s not really an ideal way to record responses, the feature, in and of itself, works smoothly.
3) Once added to the main screen, regardless of location (main jury seating or gallery), jurors cannot be moved or deleted.
When I first looked at the page, I assumed that the point of having seating in the main panel and in the gallery was that you would be able to move jurors from the gallery into the jury box to represent your final jury. Nope, they’re permanent. If you want to move one into a seat, you’re going to have to completely recreate their entry from scratch. Oh, and just in case you don’t handle all of your strikes in one pass (has anyone, in the history of EVER, completed jury selection in one pass?), you can’t delete jurors from the panel either.
I did notice, however, that on one occasion, the program managed to randomly delete one of my jurors that I had no intention of deleting (and had, in fact, just finished adding a bunch of information). There was no way to recover the lost information.
4) The List feature, purportedly for making your challenges, simply doesn’t work.
Once you have the information you need, you can hit “List” to bring up a sortable list of your panel. Right from the start, there’s an interesting bug in the sorting mechanism. When I tried to sort the jury panel by number, it sorted them like this:
A slight programing error, I suppose, but one that’s important for being able to review data on jurors if you have their numbers.
So you have your information, and you have identified a couple of jurors you like and don’t like. On the positive side, you can access the jurors information directly from this screen, which should be helpful. On the down side, striking jurors on this list does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Strike a juror, and their box turns gray. Go back to the courtroom page and… the juror is still there.
Ok, so open his information and put in the info of a different juror from the gallery. Since you can’t move a juror that you’ve pre-entered, you fill their information into the old juror’s page and hit update. Click on “List” though, and now your NEW juror is the one who is marked as “struck.” Being unable to return to the main screen after striking a juror is a problem. Making it so that the stricken juror can never be replaced is a big problem.
So your reporting feature to track challenges has been compromised by a programming issue, at least you can email yourself the information you just collected. Well, no, actually you can’t. What you CAN email yourself is a screenshot of however the list looked when you last saw it, so make sure you sort the right information before you hit your report, or your file won’t even keep track of the jurors on the actual panel.
I really hope this is just a beginning effort for this app, because as an aid for void dire, Jury Selection for iPad fails miserably. Not only is it faster and easier to record all of this information on a notepad, the bugs in the app as currently constituted make it more likely that the attorney smashes his iPad in frustration than selects a favorable jury.
The clear feature of this app is the main screen. Unfortunately, the complexity of the main interface could make it harder to successfully add questions without having to completely scrap the original program. As of now, I would not even recommend that attorneys take advantage of the free trial, it’s a frustrating waste of time.