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LexisNexis and Ravel Law will offer new level of analytics to legal community

June 16, 2017

On June 8th, LexisNexis announced the acquisition of Ravel Law, based in San Francisco.  Ravel Law provides research tools, legal analytics and data services allowing users to “contextualize and interpret large amounts of legal information to uncover valuable insights”, according to Bob Ambrogi, of Law Sites.

According to Ambrogi, “Ravel Law’s analytics offerings will continue to expand and be fully integrated into Lexis Litigation Profile Suite, delivering new insights around judicial behavior that complement the product’s current expert witness intelligence” after the merger.  He also notes “Ravel Law’s case law data visualization tool will be integrated into Lexis Advance, expanding the platform’s current visualization offerings.”

With its acquisitions of both Ravel Law and Lex Machina, LexisNexis is now at the forefront of the movement to integrate technology and artificial intelligence to assist the legal community in their research and library needs.

Courtroom Insight recognizes the value of integrated data and analytics to assist legal professionals make informed decisions.  Our partnerships with leading research organizations allow us to provide our clients with the most up to date information and research tools.  Additionally, we continue to enhance our technology as evidenced by this month’s release of automated OCR and real-time indexing for all documents uploaded to our platform.  In addition, we are working diligently on greatly enhanced search capabilities and powerful new expert witness analytics for our upcoming Fall software release.

For more details on this merger read the full article by Ambrogi.

Mississippi man convicted of first transgender hate crime

May 22, 2017

In the first conviction under the Matthew Shepard, James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 49 years in prison along with a $20,000 fine.

Joshua Vallum murdered Mercedes Williamson in May 2015 after discovering that Williamson was transgender. Williamson feared retribution from his gang, the Latin Kings after participating in a sexual relationship with Williamson, a transgender woman.

As published in The JURIST, Attorney General Jeff Sessions states, “Today’s sentencing reflects the importance of holding individuals accountable when they commit violent acts against transgender individuals.  The Justice Department will continue its efforts to vindicate the rights of those individuals who are affected by bias motivated crimes.”

Transgender rights have recently been in the headlines, mostly with respect to laws in various states, regarding bathroom rights.  North Carolina and former Governor Pat McCrory have been at the forefront of the transgender bathroom battle.  Read more about current legislation in North Carolina, in the full article.

Multi-State Bar Exam Scores Hit A New Low

April 13, 2017

In February 2017, the average score of the Multi-State Bar Exam (MBE) declined by another point.  “The exam is a six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice examination developed by NCBE and administered by user jurisdictions as part of the bar examination.    The MBE is only one of a number of measures that a board of bar examiners may use in determining competence to practice. Each jurisdiction determines its own policy with regard to the relative weight given to the MBE and other scores.”

The average scores in February, mark the lowest average scores seen since the test’s inception in 1972.  While many may think that this decline indicates a low point in history, others point to a shift in law school admissions as a potential source of optimism.  Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, explains the lower MBE scores may reflect differences in law school admissions. Applications are declining, she notes, “without a consistent decline in terms of the number of students enrolled.”  Furthermore, there is still hope for the future.  Law schools admitting students with lower LSAT scores are “taking aggressive efforts to educate those students, and she believes that’s why multi-state bar exam scores are increasing in some states. Law schools are thinking about how people learn from the top to the bottom of the class, she said.”

If enrollment in law schools continues to decline, we may see more top law schools admitting students with weaker LSAT scores.  While these students likely constitute a better representation of the Unites States population, schools may be faced with some challenges when educating those in the bottom 25% of the class.  However, as Moeser notes, “As schools are really addressing how one educates a diverse population in law school, some very good things are happening.”

Learn more about the MBE.  Read the full article from the ABA Journal.

Flawed Testimony and Unreliable Results Render Kellyanne Conway’s Work Useless to Whole Foods

March 17, 2017

Kellyanne Conway began her career as a professional pollster in 1988, interning for Ronald Regan’s pollster, Dick Wirthlin.  Later in 1995, she founded her own company, The Polling Company/WomenTrend.  She is now known to most Americans as Counselor to President Donald Trump.

In 2007, Whole Foods was preparing for a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against them and their proposed purchase of the organic grocery store, Wild Oats. Whole Foods hired Conway to create a survey which would “support the testimony of David Scheffman, a former FTC official with experience testifying on behalf of companies in antitrust suits”.  Scheffman’s position was that consumers who frequented both Wild Oats and Whole Foods, also shopped at other grocery stores and those secondary stores “competed for the business of the crossover customers”.  Conway’s task was to come up with a survey that supported these theories.

However, once the survey, designed by Conway was brought before the DC District Court, it was thrown out and the court would not lend “any weight or consideration” to the survey because of its flawed methodology.  Specifically, the FTC’s expert, Kent Van Liere, stated in his testimony that his “overall opinion in this matter is that Ms. Conway’s survey methodology and procedures are fundamentally flawed and render her data and results unreliable”.  And, unfortunately for Conway and Whole Foods, the court agreed, excluding her testimony.

In her current position, Conway find herself in the media spotlight on a regular basis.  And based on the first few months as Counselor to President Trump, she has already brought her toes to the line, and in some cases, crossed it on several occasions.  If her job continues to put her in such positions, and she continues to play the part of master spin-doctor, she may very well find herself in front of a judge again soon.  Cases like this highlight the importance of studying Daubert challenge results prior to retaining and cross-examining your next expert witness.

Read the whole story from Yahoo Finance and check out Kellyanne Conway’s expert witness profile on Courtroom Insight.

Where does Supreme Court Nominee, Neil Gorsuch stand on Intellectual Property Patents?

February 17, 2017

Flachsbart & Greenspoon partner, Robert Greenspoon hopes that Supreme Court Nominee, Neil Gorsuch will assist in the “scaling back the inter partes review procedures created by the America Invents Act (AIA).”  However, Gorsuch does not have a history of ruling on patent cases, so his position on such matters is up for speculation.

In other areas of intellectual property, Gorsuch has ruled on cases which involve copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.  According to a recent story in The National Law Journal, Scott Graham notes that Gorsuch’s “opinions speak with authority, precision and an eagerness to engage in IP issues.”

Similarly, Hogan Lovells IP partner, Christian Mammen opines in the same article that “ IP litigants of all stripes will get a fair shake from Gorsuch.”  As a former classmate of Gorsuch’s at the University of Oxford, Mammen recalls discussions on topics that were polite but animated and may have the best insight into how Gorsuch will rule on such cases.   Kirkland & Ellis partner, John O’Quinn said, “Judge Gorsuch’s opinions reflect a willingness to dig into even tedious legal issues and make them accessible to most readers.” His time the Tenth Circuit, may prove to be invaluable and he is sure to use his experience with cases involving intricate trade secrets and copyright issues when evaluating cases in the future.

More information on Neil Gorsuch and the 17 Daubert challenges on which he has ruled can be found in his Courtroom Insight profile.   Read more about Gorsuch’s past IP cases and the full article from the National Law Journal.

Is Your Expert Witness “Hot Tubbing” in the Courtroom?

January 30, 2017

Last Fall, the National Law Review reported on the concept of “Hot Tubbing” in U.S. Courts.  They define the practice of presenting concurrent expert evidence, or “Hot Tubbing” as asking experts in the case to “all to testify and quarrel with one another at the same time”.   The back and forth testimony between experts, takes place while they are under oath, and often includes the Judge getting in on the discussion as well.

U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary tried out the practice of “Hot Tubbing” in his courtroom and liked the exchange between the two experts.  He stated, “[I]t was great fun for me (perhaps because I’m a former trial lawyer) to be engaged directly with the key testimony that I needed to rule on”.

The presentation of concurrent expert evidence, was pioneered in Australia, and is now common place in courts in that country, though the practice is virtually unheard of among judges in the U.S.   In Australia, the practice has been shown to not only save time and money, but also “experience shows that experts who are opposed in their views may, surprisingly, agree under pressure when they (two or more) are giving evidence together in court and the judge is questioning them directly” according to Australian Senior Counsel Ross McKeand. Many judges down-under, agree, according to Judge Zouhary, who cites that the Aussie judges “felt it increased objectivity and quality of expert evidence, found it made comparisons easier, and enhanced the judge’s ability to fulfill the court’s role of fact-finding”.

There have been some concerns raised about employing this type of evidence gathering in American courts.  While it seems best suited for Daubert challenges or Markman patent hearings, there are some who question bringing such a format into all types of courts.  International law firm  Jones Day opined in an article, that the practice “should be used in very limited, non-jury contexts where the technical issues are so complex that a ‘discussion’ by the experts is essential for a rudimentary understanding of the dispute…”.  Judge Zouhary doesn’t necessarily agree and says “throwing everybody in the ‘hot tub’ at the same time allows the court, counsel, and experts to confront or, ‘splash,’ each other directly, resulting in a better chance of reaching a correct conclusion.”

Only time will tell if the practice of “hot tubbing” finds favor here in the U.S. and in the meantime, our counterparts in the southern hemisphere will continue to turn up the heat in their courtrooms. Read more about the practice in the full article in the National Law Review.

New Software Release Includes Unique Expert Witness Services

January 10, 2017
Courtroom Insight is pleased to announce a brand new service and significant new enhancements with the latest release of our knowledge management software.
First, we are proud to offer a new expert witness information service that automatically researches and uploads firm retentions and oppositions directly into private client expert databases.  In addition to capturing retention information, our researchers are building expert biographies and updating contact information for all client retained experts.  This powerful new service combined with our existing expert witness content reinforces our position as the leading expert witness database solution.
Second, we are pleased to announce several new software improvements designed specifically to aid users in their search for expert witnesses, arbitrators, mediators and judges.  Beginning this week, users will experience significantly enhanced search capabilities based upon:
  • Upgraded search engine and real-time indexing
  • Newly indexed content across all professions
  • Improved ability to find difficult-to-locate experts
For situations that require additional assistance, Courtroom Insight has partnered with leading expert witness search firms that assist our clients with custom searches at no additional charge.
Please Contact Us to learn more about our new expert information service or our enhanced search capabilities and knowledge management platform.
Happy New Year!
The Courtroom Insight Team
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