In a high-paced environment such as a courtroom, accessing the necessary information for specific cases can be massively beneficial to attorneys such as those that work at Riverside County District Attorney’s Office in California, US.
“We have so much data in our files, some on servers and some in paper files, which travel back and forth to court every day,” explained Luigi V. Monteleone, a Deputy District Attorney for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. “Rarely is that information readily available to us when we need it. A question will come up about a case that is pending in the near future, a Judge will ask a question about a case for which we have detailed notes written on a legal pad in our office, or a colleague will be in a different courtroom and be asked a question about a case that isn’t assigned to them. In all of these situations access to the data would eliminate huge gaps in efficiency.”
This need for accessible information was a driving force behind the office’s Surface Pro 3 pilot programme, which began in late 2014.
“With the Surface Pro 3 and its digital pen I have found the best tool for the modern trial attorney,” said Monteleone. “It’s a full-fledged Windows-based PC, with as much computing power as the desktop workstation it replaced.”
Users benefit from seamless access to files and are able to work from any location with an internet connection. Staff can take the device home in the evenings and access entire caseloads securely with remote access.
“I used to have to carry boxes full of files home to review at night,” said Monteleone. “Now those files and all the important documents they contain can stay at the office; they don’t ever have to be moved until they are closed out. The Surface Pro 3 represents the possibility of mobile data access and is, in my opinion, an excellent form factor for a trial attorney.”
Thanks to OneNote and the Surface Pro 3 pen, any notes Monteleone and his colleagues make are now stored on the device and go where they go. This means attorneys no longer have to rely on cumbersome notepads that can be easily lost, and case notebooks can be built with ease. OneNote also allows users to share notes, embed files and media, and store police reports and transcripts.
“OneNote is a natural partner on the trial attorney’s journey through the life of their cases, and the Surface Pro 3 allows an attorney to work with digital pen and digital paper on the modern legal pad,” said Monteleone.
Attorneys can also make presentations to the courtroom using the Surface Pro 3 and are able to move about the courtroom as they please. The device can project wirelessly to juries and attorneys can control the presentation of exhibits with ease.
“I think the juries of the next 5-10 years will come to expect better digital presentations to go along with our closing arguments,” concluded Monteleone. “The investigations and cases are already generating so much data that our paper files and old three-ring binders turn into multiple volumes taking up time, space, and effort to marshal them in trial. The modern trial attorney knows that tools like the Surface Pro 3 are an integral part of courtroom advocacy. It’s time we started embracing it, teaching it, learning it, and using it to its fullest potential.”
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