Monday, June 14, 2010

New iPad Makes My Criminal Defense Practice Sing

Apple's new iPad is a welcomed addition to my arsenal of courtroom technology. Tons lighter that my laptop. It's brilliant and loaded with both business and legal applications. It should make my courtroom experience all the better.

The iPad builds upon the success of the iPhone by incorporating a simple gesture-based touch interface and thin, sleek profile. The display is bright and compelling and is about four (4) times the size of the iPhone's screen. For performing legal research on the go, responding to emails, checking my calendar, and just browsing the web while I'm waiting on the judge . . . the iPad really can't be beat.

Much of my criminal law research is done on an iPhone application called "Fastcase." Its interface is intuitive and fast. On my iPhone the text is a bit small for my aging eyesight, so the large and bright display on the iPad is like heaven. With a Wi-Fi/3g equipped iPad I'm able to access the research database predictably and reliably.

Apple's presentation software, "Keynote", is available in application form for the iPad. Great for preparing jury trial presentations. Moreover, it's a fraction of the price (only about $10) of the full blown software package for my Macbook Pro. With Keynote on the iPad, I can import Microsoft PowerPoint files and Keynote presentations from other computers. Furthermore, using an optional iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter, I can connect the iPad to a TV or projector and show my Keynote presentations to the jury on a big screen.

I can't wait to get into action with my new courtroom techo-weapon. I think every criminal trial lawyer ought to consider the iPad. I'm thinking it'll make my life much easier and effective in the courtroom.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Speaking Now Required to Remain Silent

If you have the Constitutional right to remain silent and remain silent in the face of police interrogation, have you preserved your right or waived it? Well, in the recent U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) of Berghuis v. Thompkins, the Court ruled 5-4 that a suspect must speak in order to assert the right to remain silent.

Van Chester Thompkins was given his Miranda warnings and remained silent for almost 3 hours. During that time, the police continued the interrogation. Thompkins eventually made an incriminating statement. A lower federal court found Thompkins had successfully asserted his right to remain silent by actually remaining silent. Further, the lower court held that officers should have ended the questioning. The Supreme Court overturned the lower court.

The majority of the Supreme Court said if police give Miranda warnings to a suspect, they may begin questioning and continue questioning the suspect unless the person clearly and unambiguously announces he desires to remain silent or wants a lawyer. Police are not required to expressly ask a suspect to waive their rights. If the suspect shows incredible stamina (like Thompkins) and manages to remain silent through hours of intense interrogation, he "waives" his right to silence if he eventually caves in to pressure. Consequently, his incriminating statements can be used against him.