Category «Courts & Technology»

Criminal, privacy implications of drones

Nicole Black discusses a recent NJ case that raises significant questions about the future of privacy and the use of drones for surveillance purposes by both private individuals and governmental entities. Cases such as this one involving the discharge of a weapon to destroy a privately owned drone used to surveil a neighbor’s property will impact interpretations of privacy laws in New Jersey, New York and around the country as well.

Subjects: Courts & Technology

Legal Loop: Lawyers, technology and a light at the end of the tunnel

Lawyer and legal tech expert Nicole Black highlights how federal court judges are leveraging research and current awareness sources and services provided to professionals and the public via their respective court websites, as well as actively using mobile tools and apps in their daily work flow.

Subjects: Case Management, Court Resources, Courts & Technology, Gadgets, Gadgets/Gizmos, Online Legal Research Services, Portals, Public Records

On the Legal Importance of Viewing Genes as Code

On June 13, 2013 the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the much–awaited Myriad case, which challenged the validity of patents on isolated human genes. The Court held that the isolated genetic sequences claimed in Myriad’s patents did not satisfy the inventive threshold for patentability, although the complementary DNA (cDNA) claimed in the patents did. Prof. Annemarie Bridy examines critical elements of the case with a focus on the extent to which the outcome turned on a single conceptual choice: When assessing patentability, should the legal analysis focus on the isolated DNA’s chemical structure or its information-coding function?

Subjects: Courts & Technology, Features

Canine Assisted Investigation in the Borderlands of Privacy

Ken Strutin brings attention and focus to the fact that dog detection at airports for contraband, in traffic stops for narcotics, at fire scenes for accelerants and at suspect lineups are playing an increasingly important role in criminal investigations. At the same time, Ken documents that the thresholds of olfactory detection continue to test the limits of privacy, probable cause and due process. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases involving animal assisted investigation. The fallout from these decisions will add to the evolving body of case law in federal and state courts as they continue to sort out the constitutional limits of this type of investigation.

Subjects: Court Resources, Courts & Technology, Cyberlaw Legislation, Privacy

When judges, jurors and the Internet collide

In the past, attorney Nicole L. Black has described misguided attempts by judges to excessively penalize jurors for using social media or the Internet during the pendency of trials. In fact, over the last year, judges have gone so far as to fine or jail jurors who have used social media during trial, and legislators have proposed laws that would criminalize such conduct. This despite the fact that jurors have been violating judges’ orders not to research or discuss pending cases since the dawn of jury trials.

Subjects: Court Resources, Courts & Technology, Features, Gadgets, WiFi

Litigation, trial and pre-trail iPad apps for lawyers

One of the most popular and rapidly growing categories of apps for lawyers are those developed for litigation, during trials and during the pretrial discovery phase. In this article, attorney, legal blogger and legal tech expert Nicole Black recommends more than a dozen affordable, flexible and innovative iPad apps to assist attorneys in their work to develop, streamline, simplify and track critical litigation processes.

Subjects: Courts & Technology, Criminal Law, Legal Research, Legal Technology, Litigation Support, Mobile Tech, Mobile Technology, Technology Trends

DNA Identification Evidence in Criminal Prosecutions

In criminal cases, there have been challenges on sufficiency grounds and concerns over the use of forensic DNA evidence as the sole or primary proof of guilt. Uncorroborated DNA matching might not be enough to satisfy the burden of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The reliability of forensic DNA testing results might be questioned for any number of reasons, e.g., laboratory error, cross-contamination, interpretive bias or fraud, etc. Ken Strutin’s essay provides an overview of nuclear DNA typing, a sampling of the kinds of discretionary decisions that analysts often confront when interpreting crime scene samples, and concludes with with remarks about current disputes in forensic DNA typing, and how recognition of its inherent subjectivity might inform and illuminate these debates.

Subjects: Court Resources, Courts & Technology, Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research

Features – Public Defense Systems

Criminal Justice Resources Public Defense Systems

By Ken Strutin

Ken Strutin (JD, MLS) is an experienced law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker. He is the author of The Insider’s Guide: Criminal Justice Resources on the Internet, and has lectured extensively about the benefits of using the Internet for legal research at national and local CLE training programs. Mr. Strutin also wrote ALI-ABA’s Practice Checklist Manual on Representing Criminal Defendants, and co-authored the award winning Legal Research Methodology computer tutorial, published by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). He has contributed chapters to several books and written many articles concerning knowledge management, legal research and criminal law. Mr. Strutin has taught courses in Advanced Legal Research and Law Office Management. He is also listed in Who’s Who in American Law. Currently, Mr. Strutin is the Director of Legal Information Services at the New York State Defenders Association and writes a column for the New York Law Journal. Other guides by Ken Strutin on

Published June 18, 2006


This is a select collection of resources about public defense systems in the United States. The focus is on key studies, reports, and reference materials published on the web..

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#criminal%2520defense”>Criminal Defense Lawyer Associations

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Public Defense Directories


  • Pine Tree Legal Services Their website offers links to civil legal services, legal aid, pro bono, backup centers, pro se site, and law school programs throughout the country, and some from around the world. Pine Tree is a statewide legal services program for the citizens of Maine.



<#Table%2520of%2520Contents”>Table of Contents> Resource Centers

In many states, public defenders, legal aid and assigned counsel rely on the support services provided by backup centers. These offices respond to the research and training needs of public defense attorneys, monitor case law and legislative developments, answer questions from the client community and members of the public, and serve as a clearinghouse for public defense advocacy and policy research.



Criminal Defense Lawyers Associations

There are many statewide and local criminal defense associations, as well as sections of general bar associations, that have dedicated resources to public defense work. The lists below provide web links to many of these groups.


Public defense systems vary from place to place. Some have established statewide systems and operate under commissions, while others are patchwork arrangements. And a few states are reevaluating their defender systems. Information about commissions and related developments can be found in the Spangenberg studies below. Underneath is a selection of state websites.


States Links Arkansas Public Defender Commission California California Habeas Corpus Resource Center Colorado State Public Defender Commission

Alternate Defense Counsel Commission

Connecticut Public Defender Services Commission District of Columbia Public Defender Service Florida Florida Public Defender Association Georgia Georgia Public Defender Standards Council Hawaii Defender Council Illinois Office of State Appellate Defender Indiana Public Defender Commission Iowa Indigent Defense Advisory Commission Kansas State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy Louisiana Louisiana Indigent Defense Assistance Board

Louisiana Task Force on Indigent Defense

Maryland Public Defender Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services Michigan Appellate Defender Commission Minnesota Minnesota Public Defenders Missouri Public Defender Commission Montana Public Defender Commission Nebraska Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy New Hampshire Judicial Council

New Hampshire Public Defender

New York

New York State Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services

Capital Defender Office

North Carolina Public Defender Commission North Dakota North Dakota Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents Ohio Hamilton County Public Defender Commission

Public Defender Commission

Oklahoma Oklahoma Indigent Defense System Oregon Public Defense Services Commission North Carolina Public Defender Commission South Carolina Indigent Defense Commission Texas Texas Task Force on Indigent Defens Virginia Indigent Defense Commission

Virginia Indigent Defense Commission

Washington Office of Public Defense Wisconsin State Public Defender

<#Table%2520of%2520Contents”>Table of Contents>


The major bar associations, private research groups and government agencies have published reports on different aspects of public defense. They include systemwide surveys, funding studies, caseload analyses and highlights of significant problems and unmet mandates.


Nationwide Studies

Gideon 40th Anniversary Sites




These are compilations of national and state standards for the criminal justice system, and public defense in particular.



<#Table%2520of%2520Contents”>Table of Contents>


The ability to afford counsel depends on many factors, and the assessment of those factors determines whether an accused will receive assigned representation. Below are several guidelines, albeit starting points, used in making this determination.




These resources are excellent starting points for locating national and local materials on public defense systems and the implementation of the right to counsel. The Resource Centers listed above are another good place to find information about a particular state’s system.


Bibliographies and Libraries

Subjects: Court Resources, Courts & Technology, Government Resources, Legal Research