Sunday, March 15, 2009

MarshalPlan 2.3, a System for Marshaling Evidence in Legal Settings such as Trials and Pretrial Investigations

I have slightly updated and posted my evidence marshaling "stacks" (software) for the software MarshalPlan. Below please find general information about MarshalPlan and about how to download the software.

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Years ago David Schum and I developed the notion of an evidence marshaling system. We laid out the underlying theory of this evidence marshaling system in A Theory of Preliminary Fact Investigation. We developed a kind of computer embodiment, or computer-based expression, of our idea of an evidence marshaling system. Eventually we decided to call our system "MarshalPlan."

About one year ago I released MarshalPlan 2.2. This moniker -- MarshalPlan 2.2 (now 2.3) -- amounted to a bit of self-mockery: MarshalPlan 2.x is not a software "prototype." Far from it! However, MarshalPlan 2.2 and 2.3 are more than scratchings on a page that state in words (text) how a MarshalPlan application might work. MarshalPlan 2.3 is a software application based on the user-friendly programming language Revolution Enterprise(tm). This application -- MarshalPlan 2.3 -- illustrates -- with images, fields, buttons (links), and so on -- how a computer program to support the marshaling and assessment of evidence in preparation for possible trials and also for the conduct of trials, might work.

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To retrieve MarshalPlan 2.3 click on this link. Download all of the Revolution stacks into a single folder on your computer. These stacks all have the suffix "rev". To make these stacks run properly you need a "Revolution Player." To get this free player go here and download the version of the player (either Windows or Mac OSX) that you need. Then drag-drop the "Network.rev" icon onto the "Revolution Player" icon or open the Revolution Player icon and then open the Network.rev stack, or file. You should be in business now; the buttons, or links, in the various stacks should allow you to navigate between the stacks as well as within the stacks. (However, it is possible you will have to drag-drop all of the stacks onto the Revolution Player icon if you wish to navigate between the stacks. Please let me know if this turns out to be the case.)

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SOME VERY IMPORTANT CAVEATS: There are numerous things wrong with the software application that you will retrieve by clicking on the link or links below, and the application that you will retrieve has numerous gaps and defects, including the following:

1. In the application itself there is very, very, very little textual explanation of the theory behind the strategies that are embedded in MarshalPlan 2.3.
To find that theory and those explanations you will have to (i) read the article I mentioned earlier, A Theory of Preliminary Fact Investigation, and (ii) wander about my personal web site. If you want a really comprehensive explanation of MarshalPlan, you will have to invite me to give a leisurely talk (preferably on a tropical island or some other attractive venue).
2. Some buttons and links don't work. When that happens, try other buttons and links.

3. Some important stacks are entirely missing. E.g., the "Narratives" stack. The most important missing stacks are those having to do with the development of evidential argument from evidence to factual propositions and with the assessment of the probative value of the evidence. For a discussion of the methods that might be used for this purpose, see Special Issue on Graphic and Visual Representations of Evidence and Inference in Legal Settings, 6 Law, Probability and Risk Nos. 1-4 (Oxford University Press, 2007).

4. MarshalPlan 2.3 is not set up to be linked to a database. This is a most serious deficiency. But -- in my defense -- I repeat: MarshalPlan 2.3 is NOT a software prototype. It is, rather, an elaborate visual illustration of some of the directions that development of software for marshaling evidence in legal settings should take.

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the dynamic evidence page

coming soon: the law of evidence on Spindle Law

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