There are lots of apps that allow you to carry court rules on an iPhone or iPad, making it difficult to choose just one. One difference between apps is the content. Not many apps offer local rules and state rules, but it is common to see the major federal rules included such as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or Evidence. Another big difference between these apps are the features. The boring ones just display the rules; the better ones offer useful features to help you find the rule. For example, most apps offer the ability to bookmark a rule, but what if you want the ability to further annotate a rule, such as highlight a rule or add a note in the margin, much like you might do with paper copy of the rules? Rulebook is an app developed by Utah attorney Greg Hoole that offers this feature and more, and while content of the app is currently limited to a few jurisdictions, I'm very impressed by what this app can do.
The app itself is free, but then you need to download sets of rules. Some sets, such as the Federal Rules of Evidence, are free. Other sets cost $0.99 or $1.99. Rules currently available include the major federal rules (Appellate, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure and Evidence) as well as state and local rules for California, New York, Texas and Utah.
Once you have installed a set of rules, you can browse through the list of rules then tap a rule to view it.
You can search for terms across rules. For example, in the Federal Rules of Evidence I decided to search for the hearsay rule for when a witness believes that he is about to die. A search for "death" reveals every rule with the term. Tap a rule to see each subpart of the rule with the word in it. Note that you can search for a specific phrase, or you can enter a few possible search terms and show any matches of any words, useful if you are not sure of the exact word used.
You an tap on a subpart of a rule to see the term in the context of the entire rule.
To highlight or add notes, hold down on a block of text to select text, and then you can adjust the standard selection bars to select more or less text. Then tell the app whether you want to highlight, add a note, or add a bookmark. When you add a bookmark, you are not just bookmarking the entire rule as a whole, but instead the specific part of the rule that you selected, which is a great feature. The second picture below shows a portion of the rule with both a note in the beginning (tap to read the note) and a portion of the rule highlighted.
An advertised feature of the app is that when the court updates the rules, the updates will soon afterwards be automatically delivered to the app, and your notes and highlighting will still stick around after an update. No rules were updated while I was testing this app so I couldn't confirm this myself, but people who commented on Rulebook in the App Store say that the feature worked for them after the federal rules of civil procedure were updated last year.
There is also an interesting mutltiask mode, activated by tapping the icon with the two rectangles at the far right. Tapping this button freezes the app at your current location and then lets you start what appears to be a new session of the app, much like multiple tabs in the Safari web browser. You can then go search for another rule, but when you want to return to exact where you were before, tap that multitask button again to go back to the screen that you froze. This is a very neat feature that I haven't seen in any other rule books, and Hoole tells me that he is seeking a patent on it.
You can swipe left or wipe to go from rule to rule in order, and you can double-tap on any subsection of a rule to quickly see the full specific cite to that section (e.g. Fed. R. Evid. 804(b)(2)) which is helpful for the times when you can see that you are in subsection "2" but don't want to have to scroll all the way up to see that you are under subsection "b" of the app. This is another useful feature I haven't seen in other rule apps.
You can adjust the font and font size of the rules in the app, and if you don't like yellow as the highlight color, you can instead use blue, green or pink for all of your higlights. (You cannot highlight in different colors at the same time.)
All of the above images come from the iPhone version, but the iPad version is similar except that it also works in landscape view, and in that view you can see the list of rules on the left with the specific rule on the right. Any rules you purchase with one device can be downloaded to your other devices that use your same iTunes password.
Rulebook is an impressive app. It includes all of the basic features that you would expect in any app containing the rules, plus it adds some useful features that I haven't seen elsewhere. As someone who does not practice in California, New York, Texas or Utah, I wish that additional jurisdictions were offered, but the website for the app says that "many more" authorities are "coming soon" so I look forward to seeing future additions. If you want to put court rules on your iPhone or iPad, you'll definitely want to take a look at Rulebook.