Here are the most interesting headlines this week in legal news.
- No excuse for lawyer who missed filing deadline after having trouble using the eFiling system
- Circuit court rules that a remote juror did not violate a criminal defendant’s Constitutional rights
- After facial recognition software recognizes attorney, she is kicked out of Radio City Music Hall
- US News changes its law school ranking system after most top law schools refuse to share data
- Top law schools offer new courses aimed at increasing legal tech literacy
After missing filing deadline by 16 minutes due to trouble in eFiling, lawyer is still rejected
Colorado attorney Steven Call failed to persuade a federal appeals court to accept his late filing after having difficulty using the electronic system. Call started his filing on behalf of his client, a bank objecting to a discharge of a borrower’s debts, at 11:40 PM. He completed the filing at 12:16 AM, missing the midnight deadline.
Call spent 25 minutes in the ECF system before his successful filing, when accounting for a break that he took to email his opposing counsel, the appeals court said in footnote 7 of its Dec. 14 opinion. But Call’s problems with the integer box and his fruitless attempts to pay a filing fee in advance of the filing were not caused by any malfunction of the ECF system, according to factual findings cited by the 10th Circuit. As a result, Call’s client “has no factual basis for any relief,” said the appeals court in the opinion by Judge Harris L. Hartz. (Via ABA Journal)
The court determined that there was no failure in the eFiling system, therefore Call’s missed deadline was not excusable. Call later stated that he felt that the courts should have seen that he was in the system and trying to file.
Attendance of a remote juror does not violate rights in criminal case, court rules
After being convicted of robbery, defendant Edward Knight argued that the participation of a remote juror made the trial unfair. The appeals court upheld the conviction, stating that remote participation was approved by both parties and did not cause any negative impacts on the trial.
“[A]llowing remote juror participation does not impact the entire framework of the trial in ways that cannot be accurately measured on review. Rather, it merely creates room for the types of problems and errors identified by Knight, such as difficulties in seeing exhibits, hearing testimony, and/or viewing witnesses. But none of those errors will necessarily arise simply because a juror is participating remotely,” the panel said. (Via Law.com)
Other trials using virtual attendance tools like Zoom have been declared unfair after technical issues created problems with proceedings. However, in this case, a juror’s remote attendance due to a possible case of Covid-19 was found to be fair.
Facial recognition software leads to attorney being denied access to venue while on a trip with her daughter
New Jersey mom and attorney Kelly Conlon was kicked out of Radio City Music Hall after facial recognition identified her as an employee of a law firm that was involved in litigation with a related property.
Conlon is an employee of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon in New Jersey, which has sued a restaurant owned by the same person who owns Radio City. She was stopped in the lobby and informed that she could not be on the property while visiting over the holidays.
They knew my name before I told them. They knew the firm I was associated with before I told them. And they told me I was not allowed to be there,” Conlon told NBC New York.
Conlon waited outside, while her daughter saw the show.
Conlon said she is not personally involved in cases against Madison Square Garden Entertainment, and she doesn’t practice in New York. She told NBC New York that the experience was embarrassing and “mortifying.” (Via ABA Journal)
Representatives of Madison Square Garden Entertainment said in a statement that all law firms engaged in litigation were notified of this policy, and that Conlon’s firm was notified multiple times.
After boycotts from most top law schools, US News changes their law school ranking system
After 12 of the top 14 law schools have publicly declined to participate, US News has announced that they are changing the way they calculate law school rankings.
The publication’s new rankings this spring will give less emphasis to reputation surveys based on peer assessments by academics, lawyers and judges, said U.S. News & World Report in a Jan. 2 letter to law deans. And the rankings will give more emphasis to outcomes such as employment and bar-passage rates. (Via ABA Journal)
Concerned deans that have declined to provide data cite concerns about the skewed perception that can come from analyzing only specific data. They point out that rankings do not consider factors such as social causes and student debt ratios that may indicate affordability.
US News will continue to rank schools that do not voluntarily provide data. However, schools that do provide data will be given more detailed profiles based on the additional information available.
Top law schools offer legal technology courses to improve tech literacy in graduates
In response to the gap between lawyer technological competency and the legal need for tech-savvy representation, some top law schools have added legal tech courses to their catalogs.
These courses include Yale’s ‘Technology in the Practice of Law’ Class, ‘The Business of Law in Today’s Tech Economy’ Class at Cornell, and The Judicial Innovation Fellowship at Georgetown Law.
From Law.com: While lawyers’ lack of technology competence has sometimes led to surprising blunders, courts’ lack of technological transformation has also led to their own inefficiencies, sometimes unevenly impacting the U.S. public’s access to justice. To bridge the gap between self-representing litigants and a sometimes-inaccessible judicial system, Georgetown Law launched the Judicial Innovation Fellowship (JIF), a year-long fellowship for “technologists, designers and user testers to transform justice across the U.S. and in tribal lands.”