Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MarshalPlan: A Set of Methods for Marshaling Evidence for Investigation and Litigation (and for Yet Other Purposes)

Years ago David Schum and I developed the notion of an evidence marshaling system. We developed a kind of computer embodiment, or expression, of that evidence marshaling system, which we eventually called "MarshalPlan."

Ten months ago I released MarshalPlan 2.2.

This moniker -- MarshalPlan 2.2 -- amounts to a bit of self-mockery: MarshalPlan 2.2 is not a software "prototype." Far from it.

However, MarshalPlan 2.2 is more than just some scratchings on a page that state in words (text) how a MarshalPlan application might work.

MarshalPlan 2.2 is a genuine standalone application based on the user-friendly programming language Revolution Enterprise(tm). This standalone illustrates -- with images, fields, buttons (links), and so on -- how a computer program to support the marshaling and assessment of evidence in preparation for trials and also for the conduct of trials might work.

There are numerous things wrong with the standalone that you will retrieve by clicking on the link or links below, and the standalone application that you will retrieve has numerous gaps, including the following:

1. There is very, very, very little textual explanation of the theory behind the strategies that are embedded in MarshalPlan 2.2. To find that theory and those explanations you will have to 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 2.2 is not equipped to be hooked up to a database. This is a most serious deficiency. But -- in my defense -- MarshalPlan 2.2 is NOT a prototype. It is, rather, only a kind of elaborate visual illustration of some of the directions that development of software for marshaling evidence in legal settings should take.

I am brash enough to believe that many of the ideas reflected in MarshalPlan 2.2 are both novel and worthwhile. But I am mortal and thoroughly fallible -- particularly when it comes to programming -- and I would very much like to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and criticisms.


To retrieve MarshalPlan 2.2 click on this link. Download all of the Revolution stacks into a single folder. 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.)

If you wish, you can also download the following stacks as separate standalones:

Case Theory
Evidence of Material Facts
Evidence for and against Material Facts
Legal Argument
Legal Rules
Legal Source Material
Loose Thoughts
Network Manager
Elimination of Possibilities
Questions & Issues
Raw Evidence
Actor Scenario
Case Scenario
Tangible Evidence
Actor Time Line
Case Time Line
Time Line for Tangible Evidence
Time Line for Witness
Types of Evidence Sources


Another (simpler) option: retrieve an older version of MarshalPlan -- MarshalPlan 2.0 -- here!


the dynamic evidence page

coming soon: the law of evidence on Spindle Law