An Example of How Technology Has Changed Our Lives

If you have not seen the video of the NYPD Office and the Critical Mass rider, (in which the bicyclist has been charged with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct) watch it below:

According to the New York Daily News, the police officer described the above incident as follows:

Pogan [the officer] said he saw Long weaving in and out of lanes and obstructing traffic before he ordered the cyclist to stop. The cop claimed Long deliberately drove his bike into him, sending both of them falling to the ground. Pogan claimed to have suffered cuts from the impact.

Given the prevalence of cameras in almost every handheld device as well as the ease at which a video such as this can be added to You Tube, we now live in a world in which we no longer have to wonder whose story to believe. We can watch the video and determine for ourselves who committed the crime in this instance.

Plus, I suspect that this video will end up as excellent evidence in a 1983 action against the NYPD.

Update: The Smoking Gun has a copy of the police report.

Good News From the Illinois Supreme Court

The Springfield Journal Register reports that beginning in January, the Illinois Supreme Court will release audio and video recordings of the oral arguments before it. The article states:

The court announced Friday that the arguments should be available on its Web site – – the day after they take place, or possibly even sooner.

“I’m very excited about this new technology,” Chief Justice Robert Thomas said in a news release. “It will provide the parties with a record of their appearance before the court, and it will help the public better understand what we do.”

Supreme Court spokesman Joseph Tybor said in an interview that making oral arguments available online is “something the court has been interested in for some time.”

According to the article, there will be three cameras, one facing the attorneys and the other two facing the front of the courtroom.

The article goes on to say:

Audio files will be in the MP3 format, and a podcast feed will be available. Video files will be in the Windows Media format.

I am glad to see that the Court is adopting this technology. (In fact, last June, I called for the Supreme Court to do release recordings of its arguments.) I am also glad to see that the court will be using a podcast feed. These are steps in the right direction.

I just hope that the Court continues to take these steps. Right now, Illinois is woefully behind the times in even considering a viable electronic filing system in its courts.  As I stated in June:

The state of electronic filing in this state is absolutely abysmal. Further it appears as though any possibility of electronic filing is headed toward a hopelessly convoluted system where every county has their own version and own system.

Unfortunately, in the 6 months since I posted that initial statement, I have see little out of the Supreme Court that would lead me to believe that a viable and usable electronic filing system is within our foreseeable future.

In the above quoted article, Tybor (the Court spokesman) is quoted, saying:

“This is a Supreme Court that hasn’t turned away from technology and hopes to use technology to enhance justice and to enhance the educational value of the system,” Tybor said.

This is a great sentiment. However, I would like to see a little more action behind it. It is fantastic that the Court is making recordings of its argument available to the public. Why is it, however, that at least 14 other states (including Florida, Texas, Indiana, and Wisconsin) beat Illinois to the punch?

Digital Audio from Federal Courts

Not long ago, I blogged about the Washington Supreme Court broadcasting on television and making available on the internet, its oral arguments.

Now, Paul Bush of Legal Dockets Online sent me an email telling me about a new pilot project by the federal courts. The U.S. Courts website, reports:

Continuing its efforts to enhance the transparency of courtroom proceedings, the federal judiciary is about to launch a pilot project to make digital audio recordings publicly available online.

Five pilot project participants – three bankruptcy courts and two district courts – will integrate their recording and Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) systems to make audio files available later this summer on the Internet, the same way written files have long been available.

“We’re just treating the audio file as we would a written file,” said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge J. Rich Leonard in the Eastern District of North Carolina . “We think providing access to an audio file will prove to be enormously helpful.”

The pilot project will start in the bankruptcy courts in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the Northern District of Alabama, and the District of Maine. The district courts will be the District of Nebraska and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Further information about the project can be found here.

The Seventh Circuit has made its oral arguments available for some time now. To see other courts doing the same is great.

Televising Oral Arguments

While I was in Seattle, I was flipping through the channels and came across a broadcast ofTVW Washington Public Affairs an oral argument before the Washington State Supreme Court. The case was not one that I found particularly interesting: it dealt with the determination of what costs can be included in a restitution order. However, I found the the whole idea fascinating.

Not only are the Washington Supreme Court oral arguments televised on Washington State’s Public Affairs Network, but they are also archived on the internet. In fact, they have audio only arguments back through 1996 and video and audio copies since at least 2004. The argument that I watched can be found here.

I think this is a great public service. What a great way to make the legal system at least partially accessible to the public. Plus, by concentrating only on the oral arguments in the supreme court, you never have any concerns about witnesses or jurors being shown on television. The viewers see only the attorneys making an oral argument.

After watching this, two questions came to mind:

  1. How many other states are doing this?
  2. Why isn’t Illinois doing this?

I am constantly frustrated about how far behind that Illinois lags in moving forward in technology areas. The state of electronic filing in this state is absolutely abysmal. Further it appears as though any possibility of electronic filing is headed toward a hopelessly convoluted system where every county has their own version and own system.

I don’t expect the Supreme Court to fix the electronic filing situation overnight. However, allow its oral argument to be televised and archived on the internet is a great step forward that Illinois and other state could take.

Legal Videos

The Technolawyer Blog has collected several legal related videos. My favorite is Billable Hours, a spoof depicting large firm lawyers. The below video of the iPod box if designed by Microsoft is also quite enjoyable.[/googlevideo]

If you are looking for a place to waste some time on the internet, this collection of videos is a good place to start.

Creating a Transparent Signature Stamp

I have briefly blogged before about creating a transparent signature stamp. I have also referred you to Rick Borstein’s excellent post about creating a stamp to use in Adobe Acrobat.
For the third time in less than a week, however, I have found a great little video tutorial that explains how to create a transparent signature stamp in a Word document. This document can then, of course, be converted to a PDF if that is something you need to do.

I have used the method described in this video for several months. The signature stamp, when combined by my virtual fax program, allows me to draft letters and fax them without ever printing a copy of the letter.

The video was created by Finis Price at TechnoEsq. You can see it here.
[quicktime width=”320″ height=”240″][/quicktime]

RSS in Plain English

RSSI believe that RSS is a wonderful technology and that if more people actually understood what RSS was and how it worked, a lot more people would use it. I have planned for quite a while to do a blog post on RSS, what it is, and how it works. In this case, my procrastination has paid off.

The Common Craft Show has a great short video that explains RSS in plain English. This is a great video to teach people about RSS.

[flv width=”320″ height=”240″][/flv]

Thanks to Kevin O’Keefe at Real Lawyers Have Bogs for the link to this video.