Wednesday, March 8, 2006

One Judge's Experience with his Tablet PC by O. John Kuenhold

O. John Kuenhold is the Chief Judge in the 12th District of Colorado. He was appointed as a District Court Judge in 1981. Judge Kuenhold received his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1969, the same year he was admitted to the Colorado Bar. From offices in Alamosa County, Kuenhold sits in all six counties that comprise the 12th Judicial District, hearing appeals form county court and cases arising under criminal, civil, juvenile, domestic relations, and mental health law. He recently shared some of his experiences with the Tablet PC with me and I received permission from him to pass them along.

All the district judges in Colorado now have Tablet convertible PCs running on XP with Office 2003 and OneNote. My experience with a tablet PC is similar to the NCSC Technology group. At first I was greatly enamored with the handwriting ability (You can really "sign" orders in Word to send to e-filing) but have found that I use it the Tablet PC convertible more as a conventional laptop. I have had some carpal tunnel problems from overuse of the mouse. With the Tablet PC one can review e-mails and delete messages with the pen. It actually saves time and is also kind to the wrist. In Colorado, our Tablet PCs come with a program called Microsoft OneNote which can be used on any XP based computer. 

One Note takes good advantage of the handwriting and drawing features of the Tablet PC ability, but the program has other more impressive features as well. It allows a tab-based organization of complex related materials. For example, I create an electronic One Note folder for each trial witrh subfolders for each side's witnesses and a folder for pleadings and another for research. I create a "page" for each witness. These tabs sit to the right side of the screen so you can jump back and forth. One can also import other documents as a picture on the OneNote page with links back to the original document. So if I have found a case on Westlaw that I wish to refer back to, I import the case and it becomes a tabbed page. Similarly, I was the official secretary at our last chief judge's meeting. During the meeting there were references to all kinds of documents that had been emailed to us before the meeting. I had imported all the documents as pages into OneNote so they were tabbed in the folder. When I finished my minutes, I sent them out to the other chiefs, administrators and the Chief Justice as a One Note file. They could then read the minutes and, with one click go to the document that the minutes refer to. No more trying to find that email from three weeks ago!