Earlier this year, I reviewed three date calculator apps for the iPhone. Lawyers might find any of those useful, but they were not specifically created by lawyers for lawyers. Dan Friedlander, a land use attorney and litigator practicing in the Los Angeles area, decided to come up with a date calculator that lawyers would appreciate, and in my opinion he has succeeded with his new $0.99 app Court Days sold through his company Law on my Phone. (And a special thanks to Joanne Frasca, a litigator in Southern California, for first making me aware of this app.)
Most of the activity in this app takes place in a single, main screen that you see after a short splash screen. Tap on the Start Date area of the screen and a wheel comes up for you to select a date.
With a date selected, you can tap to indicate whether you are looking for dates BEFORE the target date or AFTER the target date, and then you tap on the three white buttons on the bottom left of the screen and indicate the number of days you want to count. What makes the app particularly useful for lawyers is that you can indicate for each computation whether you want the app to skip court holidays. So in these two screens, the first screen does not count holidays and just counts days on the calendar, but the second screen excludes legal holidays, only counting "court days."
Unlike the previous apps that I reviewed that allow you to exclude weekends or major U.S. holidays, this app aims to exclude the legal holidays in your specific jurisdiction. You do this by tapping the jurisdiction button at the top and selecting a specific state or federal court (62 are included in the current version, with five years worth of holidays in it for each jurisdiction). For example, if I choose the jurisdiction of Louisiana and make my start date Friday, February 12, 2010, and tell the app to count three court days forward, the app knows not to count Saturday and Sunday, knows that Monday, February 15 is President's Day and Tuesday, February 16 is Mardi Gras, so the first day counted is Wednesday February 17 and the third and final day is Friday, February 19. (For all of you who live in a part of the country that doesn't celebrate Mardi Gras, you should take advantage of the President's Day holiday in 2010 and come down and join us next year.)
I love that this app is trying to be jurisdiction-specific, and it was a lot of work for Friedlander to figure out all of the holidays, although even he acknowledges that the app is not complete. For example, the application description on iTunes notes that Wisconsin and Massachusetts are not included in the database because each individual courthouse has its own holiday schedule which varies from year to year. Friedlander also inserted a disclaimer in the jurisdiction page (tap the "info" button) noting that the calculator should be used as a guide and dates should be verified:
Unique holidays are difficult to handle. For example, although this app has one set of holidays for the whole of Louisiana, attorneys practicing in Crowley, Louisiana know that one of the official court holidays in Acadia Parish is Friday, October 16, 2009, a state-sanctioned holiday in that parish only (La. R.S. § 1:55(A)(3)) for the International Rice Festival. If would be a useful addition to this app to tell you exactly which days are being counted as holidays in the particular jurisdiction so that you can be sure whether a specific holiday is being counted or not.
Although the ability to handle specific court holidays is one reason that attorneys will like this app, another useful feature is the ability to make sequential date calculations. These are date calculations that build upon a prior calculation. For example, here in Louisiana, I know that once an appeal record is lodged, an appellant's brief is due 25 calendar days later, the appellee's brief is due 45 days after the lodging date, and the appellant's reply brief is due 10 days after the appellee's brief is filed. Let's say that I have a record lodged on September 10, 2009. This app can compute each of these three deadlines:
Unfortunately, the app isn't perfect on making these calculations because of Louisiana court rules on counting dates. As you can see above, the app tells me that the appellee's brief is due on October 25 and calculates the reply date deadline from that, but because October 25 is a Sunday, I know that the brief is not actually due until Monday, October 26, and that pushes back the reply due date one more day. But at least this app is helpful enough to give you not just the date but also the day of the week so that you can (hopefully) see these sorts of issues yourself.
Every attorney knows that calculating dates can be a little complicated, and doing so correctly is very important; missing a deadline can potentially result in a waiver of a client's rights and a large malpractice suit. Date calculator apps can be very helpful, but attorneys need to make sure that they do not blindly rely on these apps without taking into account the issues that an app might not factor in, whether it be the rule for what happens when the due date for a brief falls on a holiday or the International Rice Festival holiday in the heart of cajun country. Having said that, many attorneys will find that Court Days is the best of the date calculator apps, and it has now become my personal favorite.
Now all this talk of rice is getting me hungry, and since today is Monday in New Orleans, perhaps I should look into getting some red beans and rice for lunch. Yum.