The Romero Case – Through the Looking Glass

December 25, 2009

“Now if you’ll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I’ll tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House.  First, there’s the room you can see through the glass – that’s just the same as our drawing room, only the things go the other way.  I can see all of it when I get upon a chair — all but the bit behind the fireplace.  Oh, I do so wish I could see THAT bit!” Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 1: Looking Glass House.


“Tommy, get in here, I have to show you something.”

“What is it? I’m trying to get a closing package out to Cindy Donofrio for recording this morning, so we can get paid and I can get a pay check this week, it being Christmas and all.”

“You know that new case management software we bought, ‘Summary Judgment’, you have to see what you can do with it when it’s up and running with all of the facts of a real case loaded in.  They call it ‘mind-mapping’.  You can actually see and think through the case by setting up map views and screens showing the key people, places, transactions – the timeline and so on.  It works like a white board for brainstorming, but better, because you can put in these crazy links that keep related things tied together, even when you move them around on the screen.”

“You mean the software you bought.  That’s your shtick.  For a Luddite like me it’s just going to mean another pain in my ass to learn and change my work routines, before you replace it with another whizbang gizmo that is supposed to make my life easier. You know, Danny, I wish you wouldn’t be so good to me that way.  You might think about donating the money you spent on this new tech toy to what you put in my Christmas stocking this year, if you catch my drift.”

“Well, get with the new tech toy program or you’ll be getting coal in your stocking this year.”

“Why should this year be any different, Ebenezer?”

“And I suppose you’ll be wanting to take Christmas off again, Crachit?”

“That’s right.  And it sure is a shame you don’t get paid by the word like Dickens.  We both might be able to have a White Christmas for a change.”

“This is the future of case management, Man.  Come on, take a look at this.”

Dan showed Tommy a simple Mind Map of the first accident which looked something like this:

“For the first accident, you see we’ve got the argument between Carson and Julie at the house party which triggered everything, and the police investigation by Woodson which ties Carson to the A&B dw and the civil personal injury and property damage  claims through Julie.  So you see the visual links I made between them.  Inside those colored boxes — they’re called ‘adornments’- I put the text notes from the Case File that relate to those people and events in the map.  And when I want to see all of the case info stored inside these boxes I can just pop open the notes inside each of them and review what we have and what we may be missing and so on.”

“And running down the left side I put a few key notes that have info I want to be able to refer to straightaway, like the timeline,  just by clicking on them and popping them open.”

“Now take a look at this Bad Boy.”  Dan showed Tommy a second Mind Map, more complicated than the first, regarding the drug distribution case:

“You see how we’ve got the alleged drug sales to other kids at the house party and alleged distribution to Julie who didn’t pay anything for the pills, assuming any of these allegations by her are true.”

“Yeah, so what? Another pretty picture Carson can put up ‘to adorn’ his jail cell.”

“So here’s what. Watch what happens when I move this box with all of the stuff about Carson to the other side of the map.”

“Yeah, I see.  Carson is tied to the house party.  And the stuff about the house party and the drug sales moves with him.  You’re right.  That is cool.  We can’t separate Carson out from the house party in the school zone where the drugs were sold.  So we have to look for a different angle on getting him off, like maybe the weaker link between Carson and the girl Julie who was drunk or drugged up herself and whose credibility can be attacked.”

In Through the Looking Glass – Part Two we will see what Dan was thinking in setting up the Romero case Mind Maps and exactly how he used the features of Tinderbox and Summary Judgment to create them.

[N.B. I  recommend to my readers that they follow the parallel Romero case blog of Mark Bernstein (Eastgate Systems, Inc.), the developer of Tinderbox. The focus of Mark’s blog is on the mapping features and uses of Tinderbox (which are  incorporated in Summary Judgment™) for analyzing complex fact patterns that are unfolding over time.]

Stephen M. Winnick, Esq.
Winnick & Sullivan LLP
134 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472
(617)926-9200
FAX: (617)923-4575
Email: winvictus@winnlaw.com

Copyright © 2009 Stephen M. Winnick, Esq. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

The Romero Case – Repeat After Me

December 17, 2009

Joe Romero called in yesterday to say that Carson and Joe have both been served in a civil lawsuit filed by Birgitta Cline on behalf of her minor daugher, Julie Chandler. The plaintiff is represented by the local “King of Torts”, I. Ken Fleecem, Esq. of the firm of Dollars and Cents, LLP. The complaint alleges serious personal injuries sustained by Julie in both auto accidents, on the theory that there is a causal connection between Carson’s involvement in the first accident and the second, which makes Carson (as operator) and Joe (vicariously, as owner) liable for the injuries she allegedly sustained in both.   Approximately two weeks ago Joe sent a letter to his auto insurer, the Soulless Insurance Company, notifying Soulless of the lawsuit and asking it to defend the lawsuits against Carson and Joe. Yesterday Joe was advised that, based on its preliminary accident investigation Soulless has determined that Carson’s conduct in causing the first accident was intentional and probably criminal; and, on that basis, Soulless was denying coverage “until further notice”, not only to pay any money judgments that might result against the Romeros, but also to “defend” (e.g., to provide an attorney to represent the Romeros in the lawsuits).  Dan was compelled to advise Joe, that Dan would have to defend the civil lawsuit on an hourly basis, which means that the Romeros would be paying substantial amounts out of pocket for the legal defense which they had expected to be provided by their insurance company.  Moreover, at the end of the day, if Julie prevailed in her lawsuit, there might be money judgments against Carson and Joe for which there is no insurance coverage, and which might be collectible against the Romero family assets.

As indicated in the suit papers, an Answer on behalf of the Romeros is due within 20 days from the time of service.  But because much of that time was eaten up before Soulless’s denial of coverage, there are only 3 days left now for Dan to file a timely Answer.  So the first thing Dan does is enter a Task To Do in Summary Judgment with a DueDate of 3 days from today, and a priority of “Urgent”, to make sure that it doesn’t fall through the cracks in the bustle of Dan’s busy law practice.

Next Dan enters “boilerplate” text in the Case File Development section of the SJ Outline with the lawsuit Case Caption; Signature Block (signature line with Dan’s name, firm, telephone, fax, email, Bar Registration No., etc.); and Certificate of Service (with opposing counsel’s name and address, etc.).


Then he quickly drafts an Answer to the complaint, and a transmittal cover letter to the civil clerk for filing the Answer and serving it on opposing counsel, using the editable forms and templates for standard pleadings, correspondence and other Case File documents furnished in the Summary Judgment outline.

The distinction between a SJ “template” and a SJ “form”, is that a template (e.g., Pleading Template) is designed to automatically import and assemble portions of the document from pre-entered boilerplate text  (e.g., for a pleading, the boilerplate sections for the Case Caption, Signature Block and Certificate of Service).  “Forms” contemplate that the user will “copy and paste” the boilerplate text sections into the form.  In either case the user will draft and/or edit the body of the Case File document to produce a finished edition (e.g., for filing with the court and service on opposing counsel).

Since the forms and templates are located where they logically belong (e.g., under Case File Development/Pretrial Proceedings/Pleadings/Answer), the finished Case File document is also stored where it logically belongs in the case.   And most importantly, in terms of the lawyer’s time and efficiency, the forms’ and templates’ mantra, “Repeat after me”, ensures that the the lawyer does not have to “reinvent the wheel.”

In the next post we will see how Dan uses the mind-mapping features of Summary Judgment’s underlying Tinderbox platform to travel “Through the Looking Glass,” in analyzing and understanding the complex facts and issues posed by the Romero case.

[N.B. I  recommend to my readers that they follow the parallel Romero case blog of Mark Bernstein (Eastgate Systems, Inc.), the developer of Tinderbox. The focus of Mark’s blog is on the mapping features and uses of Tinderbox (which are  incorporated in Summary Judgment™) for analyzing complex fact patterns that are unfolding over time.]

Stephen M. Winnick, Esq.
Winnick & Sullivan LLP
134 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472
(617)926-9200
FAX: (617)923-4575
Email: winvictus@winnlaw.com

Copyright © 2009 Stephen M. Winnick, Esq. All rights reserved.


The Romero Case – Reap What You Sow

December 10, 2009

Dan is a smart lawyer.  So he knows that cases turn on facts.  And you reap what you sow in gathering and organizing them, in being able to retrieve and employ them quickly when needed  (e.g, for pleadings, hearings, trial preparation, etc.).

Although the Romero case is in its infancy, Dan has already gathered a treasure trove of investigation and research materials which he has stored and organized in SJ’s outline (e.g., accident reports and police reports for both accidents; Julie Chandler’s medical records; the Police Lab report with respect to the pills found in Julie’s car).  Dan has scanned these documents as PDF files and “dropped” the PDF files into their designated subfolders in the Case File Development – Investigation subsection of the SJ outline.

He has downloaded the relevant statutes and pertinent case law and commentary relating to each offense from his online research system, and he drops those research materials into the Case File Development – Legal Research subsection of the outline in custom subfolders created for Assault and Battery Dangerous Weapon; and Poss./Distribution of Class A  Drugs – School Zone.  

Now it’s time to make heads or tails from it all.  Here’s where Summary Judgment earns its keep.

The first thing Dan does is break down the legal issues into their natural compartments.  For example, in the Legal Issues subsection under “Substantive Issues”-“Liability/Breach”- he creates two customized subfolders, one  for “A&B dangerous weapon” and the other for  “Poss./Distribution Class A Drugs – School Zone.”  Each subfolder operates as a separate “Note” in Tinderbox, which means that it can store large amounts of materials pertinent to it, including attaching PDF files in the “drop file” area of the Note.  Dan “drops”  the pertinent statute of each offense into the “drop file” section of each subfolder.    In the text section of the relevant subfolders he begins to summarize the case file information relevant to each offense.



As the case unfolds and more investigation and discovery information is furnished, he will update these sections of the SJ outline so they represent the current state of his knowledge.

[N.B. I  recommend to my readers that they follow the parallel Romero case blog of Mark Bernstein (Eastgate Systems, Inc.), the developer of Tinderbox. The focus of Mark’s blog is on the mapping features and uses of Tinderbox (which are  incorporated in Summary Judgment™) for analyzing complex fact patterns that are unfolding over time.]

Stephen M. Winnick, Esq.
Winnick & Sullivan LLP
134 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472
(617)926-9200
FAX: (617)923-4575
Email: winvictus@winnlaw.com
Copyright © 2009 Stephen M. Winnick, Esq. All rights reserved.