I have been on civil juries. I have been an expert witness in a few pieces of technology litigation. I do not, however, go too often as an observer to many courtrooms. Finding myself in Las Vegas this week, I got a chance to do just that. I attended the morning session yesterday in Courtroom 4B of the Lloyd D. George building. Case 2:10-cv-106-LRH-PAL was in session. For enterprise software folks, that translates to the Oracle v. Rimini Street trial.
My author instincts kicked in as soon as the building security guard saw in his X-Ray machine the sharp object in my roller bag ( I was headed to the airport afterwards). On multiple recent airport TSA checks, nobody has asked about it. “It” being the spindle of my electric toothbrush. I was impressed they had me take it out for inspection. Security was a major design consideration for the building, the staff there explained, as it was one of the first Federal buildings commissioned after the Oklahoma City Courthouse bombing.
Security aside, the building aesthetics have won it several awards even in a city with all kinds of interesting architecture. The courtroom itself commanded respect. The high cherry paneled walls (the one behind the judge was in grey, what I was told, Italian marble) blended seamlessly with the benches and other furniture in the room. There was plenty of modern tech – displays everywhere with software to highlight spreadsheets and other specific sections from depositions, and near instant playback of specific sections of video testimony. Of course, no courtroom can escape paper. I noticed at least 30 Bankers Boxes filled with presumably depositions and reports from the expert witnesses.
I felt warm about the respect shown to the jury – everyone stood up when they entered and left the room. I felt, however, a twinge of sympathy for the jury. My own involvement on juries has never lasted more than a day. On far less complex topics. And in far less crowded courtrooms. This one had 9 attorneys representing Oracle, and 4 for Rimini. There were court reporters, law clerks and other support for the judge and like me, another 20 or so spectators.
The jury has had to sit through a fortnight of details on intellectual property nuances, and contracts going back a decade and longer.
The technology world has changed so much since.
As I wrote when the trial started
(Software maintenance) deserves to reflect the new world of ring fences and satellite apps that many vendors have acquired, and those customers have themselves implemented not just support for 20+ year old core software, it deserves better SLA and it deserves to be much cheaper especially for that 20+ year old core software.
That’s not the job of this courtroom, no matter how this jury decides. It’s for all of us software customers, vendors and analysts to keep pushing for.
But I was glad I spent a few hours in the courtroom and learn about the building’s design and history. And I appreciated the grace of the Judge, Larry R. Hicks, who politely thanked the jury (as I am sure he does every day) for a trial which as he pointed out had entered October as if to say he had hoped the attorneys had moved it along quicker.