Table of Contents:
- E-Courts Have Arrived In Business Litigation Matters
- The Success of Many Business Litigation Matters These Days Is Highly Dependent on Effective E-mail Discovery
- Digital Photographs Can Often Times Enhance Jurors' Understanding of A Case, But These Photos Can Also At Times Be Manipulated to Mislead Them
- The Growth of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) As A Preferred Method of Resolving Business Disputes
Both the Federal and State Court systems in Arizona are in the process of switching over to full electronic filing of all cases and pleadings and also implementing the use of E-Courtrooms. The objective is for the Courts to become, for the most part, paperless and also to enhance through electronic presentation the presentation of evidence to judges and juries.
As Judge Colin Campbell stated, "These E-Courtrooms represent a profound and fundamental change in the way court proceedings are conducted. Widespread use of technology during trial enhances the way evidence is presented, allowing facts, concepts and ideas to be more readily understood by jurors, litigants, spectators, lawyers and the Court."
Studies have found that high-tech court proceedings can cut trial time for a civil case by 25 percent. Prior to the use of high tech courtrooms, litigants were limited to presenting evidence by displaying sketches, photographs and case documents on easels or by passing them to jurors to view individually. The new technology allows lawyers to use laptops and a touch screen computer to simultaneously display and annotate evidence on the monitors in the jury box and around the courtroom. It is an easier, more effective way to litigate a case
Proceedings in E-Courtrooms are recorded. The audio/video recording technology creates a verbatim record without the use of a court reporter. Copies of the proceedings are available on videotape or a CD. [Information taken from Maricopa County Superior Court website]
E-Courtroom technology opens the justice system and trial proceedings instantaneously and globally outside the courthouse. In the future, some trials may be broadcast over the Internet.
More information concerning these e-courts can be found at this link.
The Success of Many Business Litigation Matters These Days Is Highly Dependent on Effective E-mail Discovery
With e-mail replacing communication that used to happen over the phone, in person, or by letter, these digital communications are an essential target of discovery. E-mail is one of those magical technologies most of us use every day without really understanding how it works. E-mail is the watchword in discovery today. More than 50 billion-mail messages traverse the Internet daily, for more than the number of messages exchanged via telephone and regular mail combined, and the average business person sends and receives between 50 and 150 e-mails every workday. Trial lawyers go after e-mail because it accounts for the majority of business communications and because e-mail users tend to let their guard down and get to the heart of the matter with candor not often seen in a paper memo. [Trial Magazine, Oct. 2005, Craig Ball, "A Practical Guide to E-mail Discovery"]
Good litigators these days must know what to ask for when seeking the opposing parties e-mail records. They must also educate themselves concerning which technology propels e-mail systems and learn where messages are stored. In many instances, they must also send clear instructions for preservation of electronic evidence to prevent its disappearance or alteration. Often times computer forensic experts must be employed to make certain the discovery procedures are thorough and complete.
Digital Photographs Can Often Times Enhance Jurors' Understanding of A Case, But These Photos Can Also At Times Be Manipulated to Mislead Them
As a result, the current business trial attorney must be tuned into the potential strengths and weaknesses of this technology. As impressive as it appears, digital technology has limitations and, in some situations, is inferior to traditional film photography. In its best form, it can result in very persuasive presentations. The key, however, is often the determination of admissibility by judge and his insistence that the proper foundation for its introduction as evidence has been laid.
The Growth of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) As A Preferred Method of Resolving Business Disputes
Sophisticated ADR clauses are now inserted into many business contracts. The most cited advantage of ADR-expense reduction and time savings- are goals not always met in the traditional court system. For corporations, alternatives to litigation help preserve business relationships and avoid volatile jury awards. Corporate managers also find that ADR, particularly mediation, protects the most sacrosanct of all corporate objectives: having input into decision-making. Arbitration and mediation constitute the two major ADR mechanisms. Whereas mediation allows individuals to find an assisted, voluntary and amicable resolution themselves, arbitration allows the disputants to air their disagreement before one or more attorneys or retired judges, who like traditional judges, weigh the facts and impose a decision binding on both sides.
Mediation is a relatively new ADR process. For the uninitiated, it requires a degree of courage. Mediation is: more interactive than arbitration, without prejudice to further legal proceedings, nonbinding until a settlement is reached, successful in 80 percent of cases, less expensive than traditional litigation or arbitration and money-and time-saving because it can occur earlier than the litigation process and even outside of it.
In an arbitration proceeding, a person selected by the parties hears the evidence and makes a binding award to resolve the litigation. The parties voluntarily agree to use the arbitration process either by following an arbitration clause in a contract or agreeing to submit the existing dispute to arbitration instead of the judicial system. There are very few grounds upon which to vacate or attempt to modify an arbitration award.
In the Maricopa County Superior Court system, other methods of ADR are also implemented: Mini-Trials and Summary Jury Trials.