This week, the American Inns of Court held a panel discussion on the future of civil litigation. The panel included Judge Shapiro, who offered his perspective from the appellate bench.
First, the panel discussed the proliferation of summary disposition motions over the last decades. Judge Shapiro emphasized the importance of producing record evidence to support the plaintiff's claim below and then attaching the key evidence to the appendix of the appellate brief, if summary disposition is granted. The evidence should also exist in the record on appeal, but only one judge on the panel will receive the record and he or she typically holds onto it until after oral argument. The other judges won't see the key evidence referenced in the briefing until after oral argument, unless it is attached to an appendix.
As for new technology, Judge Shapiro welcomed the advent of video depositions and video technology in the courtroom. He advised that if video is the only way to give the court a full and accurate picture of key evidence or testimony, send the DVD with the briefing to the Court of Appeals for the judges to review. In his experience, the judges will watch it.
Finally, while the use of ADR has increased of late, Judge Shapiro lamented that the Court of Appeals had to disband its settlement office because of recent budget cuts. The Court is looking for other methods and avenues for encouraging and facilitating settlement.