An Anonymous Judge Says askSam Is Great For The Judiciary
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"Regretfully, I must refuse giving you permission to quote me--not because I am opposed to it but because the Code of Judicial Ethics forbids it. In my state, the Code of Judicial Ethics expressly forbids sitting judges from using their position to endorse or give legitimacy to products and events--including charitable fund raising events. But for this prohibition, I not only would love your using my statement but also I would gladly write a short article for you to include in your "How People Use askSam" Web page. I note that only one judge (Monty Trent) has contributed to the "How People Use askSam" Web page. I am not surprised, given the restrictions on most judges from even giving the appearance of using our office to endorse a person, product, or charity.
However, let me make a suggestion. I will tell you how judges typically use askSam. As long as you do not identify my court, my state, or in anyway make any connection to me, you are free to incorporate in your marketing my suggestions on using askSam in a judicial setting.
In fact, I will go so far as to suggest that you directly market judges--not just court administrators because the judges might not receive the marketing information from the administrators. It is not because of malice that many court administrators might act this way, but because most court administrators focus primarily on case management systems that function well at the data entry and the session clerk levels and that generates reports useful to administrators (e.g.: case volume, case flow, demographics, type of case activity, etc). In contrast, the data management issues for most judges are similar to that of academics. Let me explain.
Most judges, especially at the superior court (general jurisdiction trial court) or the Federal District Court level, generate documents in three or four ways: written opinions; memoranda from law clerks; results of legal research; and, increasingly, e-mail. A productive trial court judge would generate about 30-50 major written orders (15-30 pages) per year, about 100 or so short orders (1-10 pages), receive 30 or more memoranda from law clerks (not counting re-writes), and any number of cases pulled from searches at West, Lexis, LoisLaw, and various law school case law databases. Often a judge will preside over multi-party complex litigation (asbestos claims, tobacco litigation, or complex business litigation for example) where the judge over the course of the litigation (often taking years) would have written many decisions, most of which would have applied directly only to a subset of the parties in the litigation. Keeping up with the effect of these decisions on the remaining issues and parties over the course of the litigation is a challenge.
In addition, some judges write their own jury instructions that grow in number like weeds and that must be updated as the law changes. Like most executives and academics, judges are involved in committee work where much of the committee documents, agendas, minutes, reports, notices, are provided electronically via e-mail.
How can askSam help? Just as any productive academic would use askSam to keep track of his current research and writing, archive all his past works, manage drafts from student research assistants (who are similar in function as law clerks), manage and archive e-mail and attachments, so would a busy trial and appellate judge. The archiving of past work would be most useful for a judge. If, for example, a judge hears a motion for summary judgment that seems similar to one he heard and decided a year earlier but whose name he had forgotten. All is not lost. Using the Windows built in file search functionality, the judge could probably do a search and eventually find the earlier decision if he is persistent.
However, the process would be slow and full of trial and error (I know this from experience!!). With askSam the judge could quickly find the decision along with any related cases and law clerk memoranda with askSam's far more sophisticated search engine and its word index.
These are some of the ways that judges use askSam. I suspect that many judges are attempting to manage their documents using the inadequate tools provided by Windows. I also suspect that few know about askSam (although I have told many judges about my use of askSam). In marketing askSam to judges let me suggest that you send them a disabled version of askSam to play with--perhaps one with a form designed by you to ease importing written decisions into askSam. Your current bibliography or article template, would with minor changes, make it simple for judges to save cases or law review articles that they download as well as to save and manage law clerk memoranda.
Perhaps you would send the software upon request after sending judges a brochure displaying your product and describing how it would be useful for judges. In my state alone there are over 400 judges, few of whom know a thing about askSam--in spite of my proselytizing. There must be over 10,000 judges across this country, many of who probably would benefit from askSam.
You should know that I ran across askSam (the DOS version) when I was an academic long before I became a judge. I used it in academia because it was easy to use and it met my needs. For most judges ease of use will be a strong selling point. Most judges, for example, would find Microsoft Access to be a very difficult database program--to get good use out of Access, one must have a sound understanding of relational databases, a passing familiarity with Visual Basic, and must be willing to design their own database application--something well beyond the kin of most judges.
askSam on the other hand is both fairly easy to use and would meet the business needs of most judges practically out of the box. I have gone on for too long. The long and short of it is that I believe that you have an untapped market in the judiciary.
Again, with respect to my providing a public endorsement of your product, I am prohibited from doing so."
By The Anonymous Judge
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