Infographics are a hot topic right now, and lawyers can use them effectively to communicate detailed information visually. According to law.com, an infographic is a picture or graphic that combines text with images to create a document that more easily conveys complex information. When I think of ways lawyers can use infographics, I envision catchy posters you can turn into trial exhibits or flyers you can post on your web sites The applications are endless. The foregoing article compares infographics to the types of pictures you can sometimes see on Pinterest and offers one lawyer's Pinterest site as a good example of how to use infographics to promote your practice or showcase legal information. If you are interested in creating your own infographics, click here to read about some of the best free tools. There are also free templates available for those who want to use ppt and do not want to start from scratch.
The Ohio Supreme Court is requesting comments until November 13th on proposed changes to the Rules of Practice and Procedure, including appellate, civil, criminal, juvenile and evidence rules. According to the Court's news release,
"The proposed amendments concern changes to the rules of appellate procedure, civil procedure, criminal procedure, juvenile procedure and the Ohio Rules of Evidence.
Many of the proposed changes target inconsistencies, allow for electronic means of service, remove outdated concepts, or move certain rules to other sections that make more sense. There are, however, a few substantive changes to existing rules.
Proposed amendments to Civ. R. 4.4 and Juv. R. 16 would make it clear that service by posting can be used in initial actions and expand it to post-decree matters. In addition to the traditional “posting” of a notice on the courthouse bulletin board, service would use the county clerk of court’s website if it exists, although the amendments don’t require electronic posting.
Amendments to Civ. R. 10(D)(2) and Evid. R. 601 seek to enhance the affidavit of merit requirement and clarify who qualifies as an expert in a medical claim. The amendments distinguish between medical malpractice cases and other medical, dental, optometric or chiropractic claims. An amendment to Evid. R. 601 would require experts to have devoted three-quarters of their professional time to active clinical practice at the time of the event giving rise to the claim."
Click here to follow the link to view the text of the proposed amendments and for the address for the submission of comments. Assuming no problems or changes occur, these proposed amendments would go into effect on July 1, 2013.
Changes to Rules 8, 26 and 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure became effective this week, on Decemer 1, 2010. The new rules make changes to pleading affirmative defenses, expert witness discovery, and the procedures for summary judgment. The amendments also include an Illustrative Civil Form 52 for the "Report of the Parties' Planning Meeting." A good summary of the new rules can be found at martindale.com.
A landmark number of sweeping criminal justice reforms contained in Ohio SB 77 take effect next week on July 6, 2010. According to the Governor's office, this bill "expands DNA testing for certain convicted felons, eliminates DNA testing for felons who pleaded guilty or no contest, preserves biological evidence in criminal proceeding and improves eyewitness identification procedures." Amogn other changes, the bill specifically requires anyone 18 or older who is arrested for a felony offense after 7/1/11 to submit to a DNA collection procedure. The bill also requires law enforcement agencies to adopt specific procedures regarding live and photo lineups. The new law also specifies what types of biological evidence (including blood, saliva and hair) must be preserved for up to 30 years in killings and sexual assaults. Click here to read a recent article from Cincinnati.com with pros and cons about the bill.
The Ohio Supreme Court decision in Erwin v. Bryan has clarified when plaintiffs can and cannot name John Doe defendants under Civil Rule 15. The crux of the opinion is that using that designation is acceptable if a plaintiff knows who a defendant is but does not know his/her/its name in time to file to meet a statute of limitation. However, the Court will not allow parties to use "placeholders" for unknown defendants to buy time to find them after a statute of limitations has run. Click here to read the Court's press release and to find the link for the oral argument in the case.
As the edd blog reports, a New Jersey Judge who allowed a party to fill an gap in evidence with information from Wikipedia has been reversed. The attorney had apparently used the source to help trace ownership of a debt in a collection case. The opinion hinged on the inherent nature of wikis, which is that anyone can edit anyone else's information without a guarantee of truth or accuracy. I have not read the opinion, but the edd blog post quotes an attorney on the case who believes the case stands for the proposition that "Wikipedia cannot be utilized for judicial notice."
Cleveland.com reports that the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office is launching a new web-based case-management system that will allow defense counsel to view, print and download witness statements, police reports and other documents in criminal cases. This database of information should be available some time this week as part of the Prosecutor's plan to comply with a new Local Rule (23.1) requiring open criminal discovery. This system, which was developed in-house at the Prosecutor's office, is being touted as the first of its kind in the country. Redactions are still possible where necessary, but defense lawyers should be able to obtain all other information within 7 days after a defendant's first pretrial hearing. Although Prosecutor Bill Mason still plans to appeal the rule as allegedly unconstitutional, cleveland.com says that he is keeping an "open mind." According to the Common Pleas Court's Notice, the new Rule takes effect tomorrow, on February 10th. Click here to read our prior post about adoption of the Rule.
A new bill (SB 371) that has been introduced in the Ohio Senate would create an accountant-client testimonial privilege. This privilege would be added as an amendment to O.R.C. sec. 2317.02, which already contains several privileges for attorney-client communications, physician/dentist-patient communications, cleric-penitent communications, husband-wife communications during marriage, and others. Like the other privileges, the proposed accountant-client privilege could be waived if the client voluntarily testifies or by the express consent of the client or the client's spouse, executor, or administrator after the client's death. Interestingly, the proposed amendment idicates that it does not purport to create a privilede in working papers or work product and is to be construed, interpreted and applied analogous to the attorney-client privilege.
If your practice involves complex discovery issues, Findlaw's Interactive Guide to Electronic Discovery might help. It covers topics such as records management, identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, analysis, and actual production. The site includes both text to read and videos to watch as you learn about e-discovery practices and strategies.
Robert Ambrogi, Esq. has issued a good article with tips on how to run a 'background check' on experts you may want to retain or need to cross-examine. In addition to using some common Internet tools, depending on the type of expert involved, Ambrogi recommends: checking networking sites and corporate records from EDGAR, NASD and others; searching archived Internet pages using the Wayback Machine; searching public records in certain free and fee-based databases; validating social security numbers; confirming professional credentials through a number of resources; searching online dockets; checking for published works; and tracking expert witness rulings with The Daubert Tracker. The Cleveland Law Library has prepared a good FAQ on how to use, find and pay experts, as well as a comprehensive Public Records FAQ that includes information on how to find licensure information for various professions, including doctors, attorneys, accountants and stockbrokers.