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Boston is a city of firsts.

From the first windmill (1632) to the first US mail route (1672), the city and its immediate environs gave America its first lighthouse (1762), its first chocolate factory (1765), and the first post-revolution state constitution in the United States (1780). Boston is the home of the telegraph (1837), the telephone (1876), Baseball’s World Series (1903), and the computer (1928).

And while Boston’s ‘First Night’ is the model for other New Years’ celebrations across America, what makes the city unique is that just about 120 days before the rest of the world remembers Auld Lang Syne, Boston’s academic New Year happens on Labor Day weekend.

While everyone else across the country mark the waning days of summer, Boston welcomes 250,000 students to kick off the school year. Every September Boston is a city in flux. By one recent estimate almost 80% of Boston’s apartment rentals aren’t available until the first two weeks of the month.

So Happy New Year (Part One) to each and every one of us who make greater Boston our home, with a special hearty welcome to the men and women starting law school this month! We look forward to working with you in the future.

Like many of you, our summer was busy with work and with time with family and friends.

Since our last issue of Amicus Advocati we reported that our Google+ page would offer a new content focus.

Our re-purposed Google+ page has been a great success. Our Integrated Marketing Coordinator Jiayi Xu, with the guidance of our writer/communications consultant David Alan Rego, continues to cull content from state and city bar associations across the United States bringing news and opinion from around the country to you, our ‘followers’ on Google.

Thank you for your 30,456 views of our Google+ page.

In June I was elected president of the board of directors of the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT).

During my term as president, my focus is on increasing the public’s awareness of AAERT as the authority on digital reporting and transcription, improving communication and networking among AAERT’s membership, and increasing the use of digital court reporting in public jurisdictions and the private marketplace in the United States and Canada.

The last issue of Amicus Advocati represented a full year of our quarterly newsletter. Now, with Volume Two Issue One, we begin again.

We hope that we continue to inform and entertain you.

Keeping in line with the theme of ‘firsts,’ Courthouse Spotlight and Expert Witness focus on the first criminal trial covered from coast-to-coast, and the role of one man in the first use of psychological research in a case before the United States Supreme Court.

We’ll be back with Volume Two, Issue Two right after Thanksgiving.

Buchanan Ewing

President

In TechNews we share stories that pique our interest.

Here is where we share the stuff and stories that interest us as providers of audio and video digital court reporting and transcription services.

We’re always keeping an eye out for innovations that benefit us all.

Whether networking, partnering, or communicating, our primary interest is bringing the very best of technology to the practice of law.

As we continue to grow our business, TechNews is where we share the latest trends, ideas and cultural game changers with you, our customers.

Think of TechNews as news-you-can-use.

Are you a blogger with a tech focus, either writing about new products or about the impact of technology on the practice of law? Then send us a link to your site.

It’ll be a cold day in hell (or is it HAL 9000?)

Lawyer and tech blogger Sam Glover ushers in the cool days and cooler nights of autumn by giving a talk at the ‘way cool’ Chicago’s Clio Cloud Conference “where forward thinking lawyers and cloud technology converge.”

Glover’s chat at Clio reminded us of his blog post on September 24, 2013 when he asked “Will Computers Become Better Lawyers than Humans?

According to Glover’s bio at Lawyerist, “When he isn’t blogging or lawyering, Sam likes to go winter camping.”

Maybe the chilling thought of a nation of laws and not men, supplanted by a nation of computers and not lawyers, came to Glover in a bad dream after a late night camp meal of trail mix and pepperoni, but as Britain’s comic duo David Walliams and Matt Lucas show, ‘Deep Thought’ and ‘Deep Blue are no match for common sense, and even if IBM’s ‘Watson’ can outplay a human on a game show, it’s still elementary “dear Watson” that humankind is a firewall against world domination by HAL.

On the other hand, we’re not about to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

We like Sam Glover, and we trust his opinion when it comes to the dollars and cents of getting the most bang-for-your-buck in putting together a solo practice legal tech shopping list.

Lawyerist’s recommendations for hardware, software, and accessories– with links to all of Glover’s scanner, laptop, software, and product review is definitely worth a look.

Taking the travail out of business travel

With four legal blogs, a leadership role at MyCase.com (a cloud-based law management platform), and a go-to expert in demand at conferences on the intersection of law and technology, Nicole Black knows the pain of business travel.

From a light-weight lap top, to a good deal in magazine subscriptions, here are some tips to keep you carrying-on with your carry-on.

And from her Sui Generis blog, Black sums up some key data from the ABA’s 2014 Legal Technology Survey.                
Choose the Right Tools for Client Communication
“The price of videoconferencing technology has dropped substantially,” write attorneys Wells Anderson and Seth Rowland, and videoconferencing is just one example of how “the expectation of your clients has grown for greater interactivity, faster response time, and more involvement in their legal matters.”

Both Anderson and Rowland have received ‘Consultant of the Year’ awards from TechnoLawyer.

The Apps of Summer

North Carolina attorney Brian Focht created The Cyber Advocate “to help attorneys learn about, understand, and make full use of new tools and their technologies in their practice.”

Focht’s occasional blog posts on ‘Best New Apps for Lawyers’ prove him a consummate techie (and all around good-guy) happy to share his experiences with the good, the bad, and the ugly of the small, self-contained software that we all too often load onto our smart phones at our own peril.

You can also check out his live blog from this week’s Clio Cloud Conference.

Technos Fugit (Our shameless self-promotion)

Attorney Mark Cox waxes nostalgic for the day when in a small town in Kentucky… when preparing to stand up for voir dire… I noticed there was no court reporter present.”

Surprise!

“I was told that a transcript could be accurately completed upon request, by the court reporter simply viewing the videotape which, of course, contained all of the audio. After the successful conclusion of the trial, I was given DVD’s of all 10 days of trial.”

Bonus!

I want Kandy!

Chicago-based freelance writer and copy editor Kandy Hopkins specializes in legal and healthcare topics.

A former blogger for the then Thomas-Reuters affiliated Hildebrandt Blog, her interest in legal technology and law practice management brings her to our attention.

Her occasional trends posts on ‘The Friday Five’ column at the Attorney at Work Blog are true to the blog’s mission “to give you everything you need to create a law practice and a life you can love.”

This is our favorite law technology post ever.

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Not all blogs are created equal.

The number of active blogs on law grows every day. By one estimate, there are over 5,300 active blogs, podcasts, and newsfeeds on lawyers and the practice of law.

In BlogSay, we cull content from the blogosphere on legal culture, recent legal decisions, the practice of law, and the life of the lawyer.

In BlogSay we share news-that-can-amuse, as well as educate, irritate, outrage, and maybe even inspire. Have you read a noteworthy blog post and want to share it with your colleagues? Send us an email.

PAC (Pooch Action Committee)

With just about 430,000 registered voters in the City of Boston, the dismal 68,829 voters who went to the polls on primary day two weeks ago reminds us of this election story that hit the legal blogosphere during the dog days of August.

Washington State’s Whatcom County’s four-legged, would-be prosecutor is not the first non-human (in this case, canine) trailblazer in the political history of the Evergreen State.

On September 26, 1938, Time magazine reported that 51 voters in a Tacoma suburb voted for Boston Curtis, “a Republican candidate for precinct committeeman” who happened to be “a large brown mule.”

The rich get rich and the poor get children (and a less stylish lobby)

With our credit to composer Richard Whiting and lyricists Ray Egan and Gus Kahn’s ‘Roaring Twenties’ fox trot, real estate blogger at Naked Law Lisa Bloom offers her take on 21st century Manhattan, “the billionaire’s playground and income inequality capital of America.”

Actually, New York ranks 13th in the United States, with the Athens of America and her smarty-pants cousin on the other side of the Charles River ranking a respectful (ahem) 11th and 12th  in income inequality.

For a less hyperbolic point-of-view on what the media has dubbed ‘the poor door,’ check out Pat Regnier’s report at Money magazine online and the blog of the New York Daily News.

AirBnB: Watch me pull a landlord out of my hat!

More ‘sorta-kinda’ real estate news from blogger Elie Mystal, commenting on why “people in business over the internet like to act like what they are doing is so new and exciting and technologically advanced that the ‘old rules’ no longer apply.”

Drunk and Drunker and Other Stories

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay writes on his website that “communicating directly with the citizens of our county is of utmost importance to me.”

Ramsay and his officer/bloggers first came to our attention last year, when the tale of two sisters, one car, and two failed-sobriety tests made it to the Legal Juice blog this past July.

As Juice’s John Masirow writes, “you’d have to be drunk to try something this stupid.”

Monroe County’s seat is the city of Key West. The city has a proud literary heritage. At one time or another it was the home of John Hersey, Elizabeth Bishop, Nancy Friday, and Shel Silverstein.

And while Ernest Hemingway tops the list of Key West’s literary lights, we think the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction Miami New Times bloggers will earn their rightful place in the modern social media literary canon for their chronicle of the Keys.

In Monroe County, deer are never ‘caught in headlights’ but occasionally they do get their heads stuck in a bag of corn chips. A guy by the name of ‘Chaotic Huang’ is clocked travelling at speeds of 116 mph. If you hide your roommate’s vodka, said roommate might be inclined to pull a gun on you. And if you give the cops the go-ahead to look for your marijuana stash, it’s not a legal defense to say you were shocked when they actually looked.

So grab your ninja sword and baseball bat, but beware the Taser (true story).

Girls Gone Bust; Caddy Gone South

The good news from the United States Bankruptcy Courts is that the number of business and non-business bankruptcies for the 12 month period ending June 30, 2014 (1,000,083, to be exact) continues trending downward.

The bad news for Judge Sandra Klein this past July was having to preside over the bankruptcy of Joe Francis, Girls Gone Wild founder who allegedly owes casino mogul Steve Wynn some $30 million dollars in gambling debts,  according to the Wall Street Journal.

This summer, Klein slapped Francis with a daily fine of $5,000 for his failure to return a 2007 Cadillac and a 2012 Bentley owned by GWG Productions, Francis’s porn business, which in its heyday ruined Florida for the entire month of March for thousands of senior citizens across the nation.

Judge Klein was not inclined to believe Francis’s explanation that he couldn’t return the automobiles because they were in the possession of an angry Mexican strip club owner.

As blogger Kevin Underhill writes, Judge Klein’s disbelief “would apply to pretty much any explanation Joe Francis has ever given a judge, and probably to any explanation he’s ever given, period.”

Well I’ll be a Monkey’s Lawyer

Back in April the New York Times Magazine profiled lawyer and animal rights activist Steven Wise in an article titled, “Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue It’s Owner?”

Last month, Kevin Underhill revisited a story he reported in 2011 and 2013 about an intellectual property dispute between Wikimedia and photographer David Slater, resulting after an enterprising macaque on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi  swiped Slater’s camera off its tripod and proceeded to take hundreds of selfies.

No problem until Slater and Caters News Agency, claiming ownership of one of the photos, posted it online.

Not so fast, as techdirt reports.

First Monday in October Surprise: Fantasy Stare Decisis

Fantasy Football has a new meaning as of late, from attorney Adam Banner blogging on Huff Post to anecdotal complaints from virtual owners and general managers of teams that Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension by the NFL has messed up their fantasy rosters.

If only there were a better fantasy game in town, something with more satisfaction than real Buffalo wings and Monday-morning quarterbacking and a virtual weird-looking trophy and gaudy championship ring.

Well there is. And it’s just for you!

When Vox.com’s Dylan Matthews interviewed Daniel Katz, Josh Blackman, and Michael Bommarito about their computer program that “correctly identifies 69.7% of the Supreme Court’s overall affirm and reverse decisions and correctly forecasts 70.9% of the votes of individual justices across 7,700 cases and more than 68,000 justice votes” we (like everyone else) were intrigued by their use of big data.

Imagine our surprise (and now yours) when Blackman mentioned a five-year-old Supreme Court prediction model, Fantasy SCOTUS.

 

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Credit: IMDB

Witness for the Prosecution

What one critic called “a witty, terse adaptation of the Agatha Christie hit play,” the “ingenuity and vitality” that writer/director Billy Wilder brought to Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution (itself an adaptation of Christie’s short story of the same title), earns a place in film history as an early example of the neo-noir crime thriller later brought to cinematic maturity in director Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects (1995).

Through flashback and fluid camera shots, Wilder makes the courtroom a place of excitement, relieving the audience of the boredom and tediousness of the rules of criminal prosecution.

Equal parts comedy and drama, Witness for the Prosecution (1957) is not so much a ‘Whodunit’ as it is a ‘Whodathunkit.’

When World War II veteran Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power) is accused of murdering a rich widow, his solicitor brings Vole to the offices of barrister Sir Wilfred Robarts (Charles Loughton).

Sir Wilfred is under doctor’s orders not to undertake any criminal cases.

Unhappy at the prospect of representing clients in matters of divorce, tax liability, and marine insurance—“nice smooth matters with excellent fees”— Sir Wilfred can’t  resist a chance to take his wig out of mothballs and abandon his diet of “bland civil suits.”

Not surprisingly, as we learn from his nurse, Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester), Sir Wilfred was “expelled” from the hospital “for conduct unbecoming of a cardiac patient.”

Convinced that Vole is innocent, and that Vole’s wife Christina (Marlene Dietrich) provides an alibi, Sir Wilfred is shocked when Christina is called as a witness for the prosecution, testifying under oath that her husband admitted killing the widow.

Witness for the Prosecution concludes with a voice-over imploring the audience not to divulge the ending of the story to anyone who has not yet seen the film.

No doubt the voice-over worked.

Critics loved the movie, and its $9 million box office was a nice return on the movie’s $3 million dollar budget.

What we like about Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution is the way Wilder the writer includes technology in his stories about lawyers and the practice of law (See Volume 1, Issue 2 of Amicus Advocati, and our recommendation of Wilder’s 1966 movie, The Fortune Cookie).

Also testifying against Vole is the murdered widow’s housekeeper, Janet McKenzie (Una O’Connor). When Mrs. McKenzie tries speaking to the court by moving away from the microphone at the witness box, the patient judge directs her back to the microphone.

“Oh! Is this thing necessary?” She asks with annoyance.

“An excellent question,” replies the judge.

“However, it has been installed at considerable expense to the taxpayers, so let us take advantage of it.”

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Leo Cullum, The New Yorker, 1999

Amicus Advocati is read by over 1,000 lawyers and paralegals in Massachusetts.

In our commitment to deliver state-of-the-art digital court reporting technology to lawyers, one thing remains constant: the importance of the expert witness in pre-trial discovery.

The expert witness can make or break a case. Their expertise is a key component in litigation.

If you know an expert witness we can profile in Amicus Advocati, or if you have something useful or compelling to share about your experience in working with (or against) an expert witness, drop us a line.

Kenneth Bancroft Clark

This summer, the Harvard Graduate School of Education Ed. Magazine asked faculty, alumni, plaintiffs, lawyers, and activists to comment on the anniversaries of two landmark court cases in American education: Brown v. Board of Education(1954) and Milliken v. Bradley(1974).

As the magazine’s editor notes, “two cases, one known by all, the other hardly known outside legal and academic worlds. Both, however, have dramatically shaped public education in the United States.”

It’s worth the read.

It inspired us to look into the history of the Brown decision and the role of psychologist Kenneth Bancroft Clark as an expert witness in the NAACP’s challenge to the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) in Briggs v. Elliott (1952), a South Carolina case that was one of four cases combined under Brown.

Not only did the unanimous decision in Brown invalidate a doctrine that was the basis for school segregation in 17 states and the District of Columbia, it also marked the first time that psychological research was cited in a Supreme Court decision.

Sixty years after the court’s tolling of the death-knell for legal segregation, Clark symbolizes the role that social science has come to play in law and social policy in the United States.

Clark is a man of firsts: the first African American man to receive a doctorate degree in psychology from Columbia University; the first tenured African American professor at City College of New York; and the first African American president of the American Psychological Association.

Chief Justice Earl Warren’s footnote 11 in the Brown decision is where Clark’s place in American legal history is memorialized.

As far back as 1909, the White House Conference on Children and Youth focused on improving the health and welfare of America’s young.

At midcentury, Clark was one of 6,000 men, women, and children from across the country and around the world attending the 1950 conference.

Clark’s conference paper, Effect of Prejudice and Discrimination on Personality Development, and his co-authorship of an appendix to the appellant’s briefs filed with the court in the Brown case, The Effects of Segregation and the Consequences of Desegregation: A Social Science Statement,was a summary of psychological research, with the imprimatur of dozens of American social scientists including psychologist Gordon Allport and sociologist Robert Merton.

It is these two sources that Warren cited among the seven sources in that famous footnote.

Decades before Brown, Clark and his wife and collaborator Mamie Phipps Clark’s research with children using two dolls (one black, the other white) to study identity development in preschoolers brought Clark to the attention of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP legal defense fund.

It was Clark’s expert testimony in Briggs that led Clark’s detractors to refer to him as the ‘doll man’ in their criticism of the Warren court’s finding that segregation “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.”

With criticism ranging from questions on methodology to interviewer bias, and the incidence of the same type of negative self-image from black children in Springfield, Massachusetts where schools were not legally segregated, some critics also feared that just as psychology was used to desegregate, it could be used to re-segregate.

For these critics, the fourteenth amendment was all that the court should have needed to strike down the Plessy doctrine.

In the aftermath of Brown, some social scientists did indeed argue that there were inherent race differences. But such theorizing could not counter the staying power of research by Clark and many others.

Clark and his colleagues gave intellectual heft to the growing national consensus that segregation was morally wrong.

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Geekosystem/Café Press

Know ifs, ands, or buts?

According to the Massachusetts Bar Association, “among the most challenging skills for a new lawyer is the art of contract drafting and persuasive writing.”

Are you a grammarian bar none? Are you a master of the contract language universe?

Contact us with your own tried and true rules on legal writing and we’ll give you a forum to reach hundreds of young lawyers who’ll benefit from your help!

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The New Bedford Superior Court House

The first week of summer 2010 was the last week of criminal court sessions in the second-floor courtroom at the New Bedford, Massachusetts Superior Court House (see Amicus Advocati Volume 1, Issue 4 on the opening of Fall River’s $70 million Justice Center).

Designed in 1828 by Tiverton, Rhode Island architect Russell Warren in the Greek revival style, construction of the courthouse was finished in 1831 about two decades before whale oil would make  New Bedford the wealthiest city per capita in the world.

In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the United States was a nation in search of an identity. Growing sectarian disagreement over slavery and anti-British popular sentiment after the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 compelled a cultural soul searching among America’s intellectual elites.

In their desire to shun the cultural domination of England and Europe, American intellectuals searched for a cultural declaration of independence to match the political declaration of 1776.

That Thomas Jefferson and John Adams would die within hours of each other on July 4, 1826 was cause for Massachusetts’ intellectuals to both mourn and celebrate American democracy.

Central to their desire to sustain a shared commitment to the ideals of America’s independence was their attraction to the then Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Seeing Greece’s current struggle as analogous to America’s own earlier struggle to free itself from the British Empire, they rallied behind Greece’s fight to restore democracy at the very place that had given birth to Plato and The Republic.

Greece inspired Boston, and then all of Massachusetts and America.

Greek antiquities, particularly its architectural ruins, were monuments to a political tradition that impacted everyone and everything in Jacksonian America.

In what came to be known as ‘Greek Mania,’  literature, women’s hairstyles and fashions, and even the names Bostonians gave to their sons and daughters alluding to the heroes and heroines of Greek Mythology, contributed to the idea of Boston as the ‘Athens of America.’

From Boston and then across the republic, American’s lived in Greek inspired houses and worshiped in Greek-inspired churches. They deposited their money in Greek-columned banks. Merchants paid their export and import taxes in Greek-columned customs houses.

New Bedford’s Superior Court House design was designed as a Greek temple to law and justice.

Architect Russell Warren’s wooden columns topped by double-scrolled Ionic capitals, the absence of adornment in the stark white framing of its doors and windows, its red-brick exterior, and the addition of a renaissance-inspired cupola most often associated locally with the early twentieth-century colonial revival ‘houses’ that mark Harvard University’s Charles River campus signify a uniquely American transitional architectural style, an American architecture imbued with the cultural belief in a more perfect union.

The portraits of the nineteenth century jurists adorning the second floor courtroom of the whaling city’s Greek temple have looked down upon some of the most storied and notorious cases in American criminal law.

In 1981 Raymond Patriarca, the reputed boss of organized crime in New England,  was arraigned there for allegedly ordering the 1968 murder of a bank robber Patriarca believed would testify against him. Recovering from heart surgery at the time, Patriarca was wheeled into the courtroom on a stretcher. The case was later dismissed when the court ruled he was medically unfit to stand trial.

In 1989 former New Bedford attorney Kenneth Ponte was arraigned in the courtroom after a grand jury indicted him in connection with the murder of one of nine drug-addicted women whose bodies were found along Interstate 195 from Southeastern Massachusetts to the Rhode Island border between July 1988 and June 1989. The charges were subsequently dismissed for lack of evidence. To date the crimes remain unsolved.

In 1993, James Porter, a former priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River, pleaded guilty in the courtroom to 41 counts of sexually abusing 28 children during the 1960’s. Sentenced to 18 to 20 years in state prison, the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal led to the resignation of Boston’s Archbishop Bernard Law and a Pulitzer Prize for the Boston Globe.

But the greatest repercussion from Porter’s acts was the crisis in faith for Roman Catholics across America.

But it was in the late nineteenth century, when decades after the discovery of petroleum in rural Pennsylvania led to the demise of whale oil as the economic engine that both fueled New Bedford’s economy and inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick, that the courtroom forever earned its place in the annals of American criminal law.

On June, 5, 1893 a 33 year-old woman was tried and 15 days later acquitted for the murder of her father and step-mother with a hatchet.

In an era when women were considered the ‘fair’ and ‘weaker’ sex, and when the notion of a woman killer was unheard of, the trial of Lizzie Borden was a media sensation.

Today we are all weary of the notion that any trial is noteworthy enough to be labeled the ‘trial of the century.’

But The Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Lizzie Andrew Borden certainly earns that sobriquet in the annals of the impact of technology on society.

By telegraph and by telephone, the trial of Lizzie Borden was covered by the Associated Press, providing America and the world with same-day coverage of the trial.

One key piece of the prosecution’s case, the record of the inquest conducted by District Attorney Hosea Knowlton, was ruled inadmissible.  Borden’s attorneys successfully argued that she was denied access to counsel during her interrogation.

No doubt the Borden case is one of the earliest instances where the American public would learn thanks to the press and to telegraph and telephone the accused’s right to have an attorney present during questioning is sacrosanct, a right made clear by the United States Supreme Court in 1963 in Gideon v. Wainwright.

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According to its website, “Women in e-Discovery (WiE) is a pioneering organization that primarily provides educational opportunities regarding technology in the legal industry to its members.”

With over 5,000 members and more than 30 chapters worldwide, WiE members are “attorneys, litigation support professionals, paralegals, legal IT staff, court reporters, consultants, recruiters, and vendors.”

WiE’s mission is advocacy, “to serve as a platform for dialogue on gender gaps and social development and to advocate the viewpoints of professional women in the legal industry, especially on issues affecting the application of technology in their roles at work and at home.”

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