Since starting a new job at UAMS earlier this year, I've been guest-blogging here about software projects related to the firm's work. Some of my projects aren't related, however, and I haven't had a forum for those posts. So, I've started a new blog at nathanchaney.com and seeded it with non-law posts from this site that relate to big data, information visualization, software, technology, and food. I'll continue to post here about things related to the law practice, but the new site will be a broader forum for my big data and information visualization projects. Please visit and have a look around!
Nathan here. I'm back for a guest post with some new tricks I've learned at my new job from some of the researchers at UAMS. I've having a blast getting an inside look at cutting-edge biomedical research. This post looks at some data visualization about the time it takes to resolve civil tort cases in Arkansas.
One of the researchers has a master's degree in computer science, and I picked his brain a little bit about what software packages he likes to use. He prefers python to Perl (which I like) because python's research libraries are easier to use.
I took his recommendations to heart, and I've been tinkering around with the Anaconda python distribution with data I've gathered for another project I'm working on releasing very soon: Docket Dog. It's an Arkansas state court notification system. I used the data mining application Orange to perform some data visualization on the types of civil cases my dad and brother handle.
Arkansas Tort Case Length Analysis:
I took a look at over 98000 tort cases available electronically from the Administrative Office of the Courts for which I could calculate an end date. This is what the time frames look like:
As you can see, civil court cases can take several years to resolve. We'll see what the averages look like here in a few minutes with another chart.
In the meantime, there are several interesting patterns that appear in this chart. For instance, on the first line for product liability cases, there are several vertical bands around 9, 12, and 14–16 years. I haven't looked into this, but I suspect each band probably represents a settlement of a specific type of cases, like Firestone exploding tire cases, Pinto exploding car cases, or something similar.
The declaratory judgment (dec action) line is notably shorter overall than the others. Again, I haven't researched this further, but I would expect this is due to the fact that dec actions don't involve juries and are usually about a specific question of law. For instance, lots of dec actions involve whether there is insurance coverage for a particular event or not (the hilarious Luther Sutter v. Dennis Milligan dec action notwithstanding).
Now, on to the next chart. This is called a box chart:
This chart is broken up into quartiles. The light blue box represents 50% of all cases. So, 50% of motor vehicle collision (MVC) cases are decided within 2 years, with the median value being 1.6 years. (Median means the middle value; if there were 101 cases, for instance, the median value would be the 51st value). The average MVC case length is shorter at just over 1 year.
The dark blue lines represent maximum values, excluding outliers. The dots out to the right of the graph represent those outliers, which extend out to 20 years.
What's the bottom line? For 3/4 of tort cases, you can expect resolution to take at least 6 months to 3 years. Another quarter of cases take up to 4 years or so. And, there are always outliers that can take many, many years to reach ultimate resolution.
What questions do you have about this analysis?
Last year I wrote up a how-to guide installing a .ptx viewer on a Mac for Mavericks and previous versions of OS X. Some steps in that process changed in Yosemite, so here are the steps.
Remember, this is a fairly involved process that takes tinkering under the hood of your Mac. Make sure you're comfortable using the command line. Some of the commands will take a while to run, so it's best to try and multitask while this is going on.
First, install XCode from the App Store. Then, open the Terminal applications (found at /Applications/Utilities/) and run the following command, which installs some command line tools you'll need:
Run the following command to agree to the XCode license:
sudo xcodebuild -license
Scroll to the end using the spacebar and type 'agree' to accept the license.
Next, you'll need the Macports package installation manager, available here. Choose the version that corresponds to your operating system, and install the package. When it's finished, run the following command to update Macports to the latest release (warning: this step can take a while, because it has to compile a bunch of code):
sudo port -v selfupdate
You'll also want to upgrade the installed ports (which can also take a while), as follows:
sudo port upgrade outdated
After this, you'll want to make sure MacPorts knows where to look for its files, which are in the /opt directory. Run this line of code to do so (H/T David Baumgold, whose great Wine on Mac tutorial I just discovered):
echo export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:\$PATH$'\n'export MANPATH=/opt/local/man:\$MANPATH | sudo tee -a /etc/profile
Next, we'll use Macports to install Wine:
sudo port install wine
This will take a few minutes for the files to download, compile, and install. After that, we'll have to install a couple of extensions for wine: (1) Mono, an open source version of the .NET framework; (2) a helper application, winetricks; and (3) Windows Media Player. (1) and (3) are required by E-Transcript Viewer 6.2, and (2) installs (3).
sudo port install mono sudo port install winetricks winetricks wmp10
During this process, you're going to have some Windows windows pop up, as you would when installing software on a Windows machine. Make the appropriate selections (the default, preferably) to install the software.
Then, download and install the e-Transcript Viewer app, available here. Download the file, then type the following commands into your Terminal: as follows:
cd ~/Downloads wine E-Transcript_Bundle_Viewer-6.2.exe
(Pro tip: when you're typing a file name into the Terminal, you can hit the tab key to auto-complete the name). Once you run this program, you'll get a popup telling you to install a couple of prerequisites. Click 'Install'. Check the default values for installation of the E-Transcript Viewer, and complete the installation.
Finally, we'll need to create a shortcut to the installed E-Transcript Viewer application, which is hidden. Open the TextEdit application, and click New Document. Copy and paste the following lines into the document:
#!/bin/sh wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/RealLegal/E-Bundle\ Viewer/EBundleViewer.exe
Click Format > Make Plain Text. Save the file in the Applications Folder as "E-Transcript Viewer.command". Finally, go back to the Terminal window and enter the following commands so that the script we just created can be executed:
chmod +x /Applications/E-Transcript\ Viewer.command
Now, you should be able to double-click the 'E-Transcript Viewer.command' file in the Applications folder any time you need to open a .ptx file. Here's the result:
If you get stuck at any point in the process, please let me know in the comments and I'll try to help. You can also holler at me @chaneylawfirm on Twitter. We'd also appreciate a follow on our blog at http://www.chaneylaw.com/blog if you found the tutorial helpful, as I put these out from time to time. Thanks for reading.
UPDATED 6-25-2015: Genericized the home directory in the bash script per the comments.
I follow Hercules and the Empire, a blog written by a federal trial judge in Nebraska. I was poking around the archives today and found a couple of gems on legal writing, including a list of "Top ten legal writing hints when the audience is a cranky federal trial judge". Judge Kopf suggests we make life easier on law clerks by inserting hyperlinks to caselaw and the electronic record.
I appreciate good legal writing, so I immediately started exploring the process. The Nebraska USDC ECF page has several links and tutorials on how to create hyperlinks in e-filed documents. The tutorials are a really good starting place on the mechanics of how to create hyperlinks. For instance, I never knew you could link to particular pages of PDF documents online simply by adding ?page=<pagenumber> to the end of the link. However, the tutorials identified a few issues that our particular Mac-based workflow would cause, so I thought I'd write up how I addressed the problems.
We use Macs and Microsoft Word in our office. We have Adobe Acrobat 11. Lexis is our legal research provider. From what I can tell, this setup creates at least two issues that requires alternative solutions to that posted in the Nebraska USDC hyperlink manual.
Problem 1: Clean Lexis Links
Solution: Use the Copy with Cite link from your Lexis case page to get a permalink to the document.
Pro Tip: Instead of the page number of the beginning of the opinion, you can use the page number for the pinpoint cite. So, instead of: "http://www.lexis.com/research/xlink?app=00075&view=full&searchtype=le&search=347+Ark.+423", the last part becomes "347+Ark.+429".
Explanation: For Lexis links, the tutorial suggests copying and pasting the link from the address bar in the browser; however, the tutorial also notes some attorneys have difficulty using this method. In looking at the url for a case I pulled up in Lexis, I can tell it will cause problems simply because it contains a lot of HTTP session information that will expire in a few hours.
The hyperlink needs a permanent link to the Lexis document. The workaround is to click the (Copy w/ Cite) link at the top of the Lexis page for your document. This will open a popup window. Make sure the Copy reference as hyperlink box is checked, and you can then click the text and copy the citation with the hyperlink embedded. Here's a screenshot showing the Copy w/ Cite link and the popup:
When you paste into Word, you might have to click the little clipboard icon that pops up and select "Match destination formatting...", like this:
You'll need to work on the cite to get it in Bluebook format (de-bold and italicize the caption), unless your an anarchist. This will give you a permanent link to Lexis in your Word document.
Problem 2: Exporting Links to PDF
Solution: This requires a couple of different workarounds for me, as follows:
- Upgrade Adobe Acrobat to version 2015 (this is the Document Cloud version).
- Use File > Save As Adobe PDF... in Word 2011, not Word 2016 Preview.
- Don't put hyperlinks in footnotes for now.
Explanation: While reading through the Nebraska USDC tutorial, I saw that you can't simply do a File > Print > Save as PDF from Word because it doesn't preserve the links. I tried it, and sure enough, the links didn't work. I also tried the Save as Adobe PDF from the File > Print > Save as... menu, but that didn't work either. Finally, File > Save As... and selecting PDF was a dud too.
I found this Adobe support page discussing the link exportation issue. I wound up upgrading Adobe Acrobat to the latest version in order to able to embed links in a PDF created from Word. They now work in the body of the document, but not the footnotes. I like using footnotes for citations, but I'll have to modify my behavior until this problem gets fixed.
Of the three ways to create the PDF from Word suggested on the Adobe forum, I could only get one to work. I figured out this is due to having the Office 2016 Preview installed on my computer. The File > Save as Adobe PDF link works in the 2011 version of Word, but the link between the programs appears to be broken in the 2016 preview.
According to the Nebraska USDC tutorial, you can link to particular documents previously filed in your case simply by inserting the link from the email you received when the document was filed.
The really cool feature, I think, is linking to documents you're currently filing. I haven't tried this yet. If you've been able to do it, or have discovered any issues with the process on a Mac, please drop me a line @chaneylawfirm on Twitter. We'd also appreciate a follow on our blog at http://www.chaneylaw.com/blog. Thanks for reading.
I wrote some custom software to automatically update a database of trademarks I file for my clients. This software notifies me daily of any changes to the status of my clients' trademark applications. It also notifies me when deadlines get close or when renewal affidavits need to be filed. It's a big help to my practice, and it helps me keep my clients informed in a timely fashion.
My software also analyzes statistical information about my clients' trademark applications, such as average pendency, so I can give clients accurate estimates of the time it will take for various things to happen during the application process.
I recently wrote some new software to analyze statistics about all trademark applications naming Arkansas owners, and I'll be featuring some of the insights on this blog going forward.
One of the first questions I asked was, "Who files the most trademark applications in the state?" The table below shows the answer:
I'm proud and pleased to be the attorney handling the most applications in the state over the last 12 months.
What would you like to know about federal trademark filings for Arkansans?