Friday, October 04, 2013

MarshalPlan 6.x (evidence marshaling software)

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 6.x.
    A few years ago I began to make MarshalPlan available via the internet. Further below in this post I lay out a relatively simple way that many of you can now use to download and run MarshalPlan 6.x.

    B. Caveats

    Before you download or access MarshalPlan, please consider the following important caveats:
    1. The current iteration of MarshalPlan -- MarshalPlan 6.x -- is not a prototype of a working application suitable for real-time and real-world use. Far from it! However, MarshalPlan 6.x goes beyond just scratchings (text) that explain how an evidence marshaling application might work. Even so, 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 6.x 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 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 6.x is currently not set up to be linked to a database. This is an almost fatal deficiency for any possible real-world use in a context such as law practice. (But it would not be difficult for a reasonably proficient programmer to eliminate this deficiency.)

    C. Instructions

    Try the following method to view and play with MarshalPlan 6.x:
    Go to 6.x and open the subfolder "Windows" and then click on MarshalPlan 6.x.exe. 
    A free open source version of the scripting language for MarshalPlan is now available (go here). It is called "LiveCode Community."

    • Caveat: I reserve my copyright to MarshalPlan. This means in part that you cannot distribute, lease, or use any version of MarshalPlan for profit or for commercial purposes without my express written permission.
    Nota Bene: You will very probably not be able to run MarshalPlan 6.x on an Apple computer. The Apple OS probably still strips MarshalPlan 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.} But there is a solution! Send an email message to and ask me to share a relevant DropBox folder with you. I will probably happily oblige.
    The dynamic evidence page

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