Saturday, August 20, 2011

Most-Read Articles in ... Law, Probability and Risk

See ... harrumph ... the most-read articles in Law, Probability and Risk in July 2011.


How to download or access my evidence marshaling software (MarshalPlan)

A. Background

Years ago David A. 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."

  • Some of my more recent thoughts about the theoretical foundations of MarshalPlan may be found here (long blog post called "The Ramshackle -- and Logical -- Character of Explicit Human Factual Inference" (June 18, 2011)).
  • In the years following my seven(!)-year NSF-supported collaboration with David Schum, I continued to tinker with MarshalPlan. I did so by both modifying and adding "stacks," or files. (Each stack corresponds to an evidence marshaling strategy, or method.) The most recent iteration of the evidence marshaling software is MarshalPlan 4.0.

    A few years ago  I began to make MarshalPlan available via the internet.  However, since I am not a programmer and since I lack many basic computer skills, I have not managed to devise a single method of accessing or download in MarshalPlan 4.0 that works for everyone. This is why I lay out below a variety of ways -- four ways -- for you to download or use MarshalPlan. Surely at least one of these methods of downloading or accessing MarshalPlan will work for you!

    B. Caveats

    Before you download or access MarshalPlan, however, please consider the following important caveats:
    1. The current iteration of MarshalPlan -- MarshalPlan 4.0 -- is not a prototype of a working application suitable for real-time and real-world use. Far from it! However, MarshalPlan 4.0 goes beyond scratchings (text) that state how an evidence marshaling application might work. But it is not far from the truth to say that MarshalPlan is mainly an elaborate visual illustration of some of the directions that development of software for marshaling evidence in legal settings should take. But, but ... MarshalPlan 4.0 is a bit more than an illustration of possible future directions for research and development. MarshalPlan, as it now stands, is useful for pedagogical (i.e., teaching) purposes. Moreover, MarshalPlan is creeping ever closer to being something akin to a genuine software prototype suitable for real-world and real-time use. 
    2. In MarshalPlan 4.0 there are only brief explanations of some of the evidence marshaling strategies found there. Other marshaling strategies, however, are described and explained more fully. For a comprehensive account of the thinking that went into MarshalPlan, please see the readings mentioned above. If you want a truly comprehensive theory-laden explanation of MarshalPlan, you will have to invite me to give a leisurely talk (preferably on a tropical island or some other attractive venue).
    3. A few buttons and links may not work. If that happens, try other buttons and links. (Otherwise resort to expletives. You have my permission.) 
    4. MarshalPlan 4.0 is not set up to be linked to a database. This is a most serious deficiency for any possible real-world use in a context such as law practice.

    C. Instructions

    Try one or more of the following methods to view and play with MarshalPlan 4.0:
    1. MarshalPlan on the web: If you use Firefox 3.x and you are willing to accept a plug-in, you may be able to view MarshalPlan 4.0 in your (Firefox) browser. To try this, click this link

    I call the current iteration of this app "MarshalPlan 5.5" You can download this app for use on a Windows computer by  going to and opening the subfolder "Windows" and then clicking on MarshalPlan 5.5exe (NOT MarshalPlan.5.5exe).

    • N.B. of 9/17/2012: You will not be able to run this app -- MarshalPlan 5.5 -- on an Apple computer. It seems that Apple OS strips my app of the ability to run on Apple computers. Sorry! {Take your grievance if any to the paternalistic Apple Corporation, which likes closed worlds, particularly those that it controls.}]

     [SNIP, SNIP]

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    "Decision Fatigue" in Investigation?

    Fact investigation is a dynamic process in which numerous decisions have to be made (and revisited). Should investigators take special measures to avoid decision fatigue? See John Tierney, Do You Suffer from Decision Fatigue? NYTimes (August 17, 2011).  


    The dynamic evidence page

    It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.

    British Witch Trials and Witness Competency Rules about Children

    Adam Roth (a Cardozo Law School student) brought the following interesting article to my attention: Frances Cronin, The witch trial that made legal history, BBC News Magazine (August 17, 2011).


    The dynamic evidence page

    It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.