CD-ROM Briefs: Must Today's High Tech Lawyers Wait Until the Playing Field Is Level?


Joanne M. Snow


VOL. XVII • Winter 1999 • NO. 2 (table of contents)

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17 John Marshall J. of Comp. & Info. Law 615


The CD-ROM has infiltrated every part of the legal profession, from research and learning aids to information storage. The newest technological advancement to enter the profession is the CD-ROM brief. In 1997, the first three CD-ROM briefs were filed with the federal judiciary, and the courts seem more than eager to continue their use. As with all new things, there are critics. Those opposed to CD-ROM briefs believe that they will adversely affect the standard of review, efficiency and finality of decisions in the trial and appellate courts and prejudice the less affluent. These concerns, however, are unfounded. The appellate courts have rules of procedure that they must follow and a new technological form of briefing is not going to change the rules. CD-ROM briefs contain nothing more than traditional briefs. The Administrative Office of the Courts believe that these new briefs will actually increase the efficiency of the court system and the "all-inclusive" content on CD-ROM briefs. As a result, CD-ROM briefs will allow the judges easy access to all relevant information, which allows them to make time-efficient, quality decisions lending to the finality of decisions. So far, CD-ROM briefs have given the Supreme Court justices a firsthand look at the material that they were ruling on; provided hyperlink text within the briefs that allowed the reader to immediately connect to cases, rules, transcripts and video taped evidence. In addition, the amount of storage space needed for appellate briefs has been reduced. The information revolution is continuing and the legal community needs to accept the benefits that technology has to offer. As clients become more technologically advanced, attorneys and the courts must follow if they are to provide proper advocacy and adjudication. Currently, the courts are sensitive to those in the profession who are not very technologically advanced but, as the community keeps moving towards bringing more and more technology into the courtroom, the whole profession is going to have to follow.

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