When Eastern District of New York Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis asked an attorney last month whether he and his client could appear for a status conference in August, the attorney, Joel S. Cohen, sheepishly said he did not know.

Cohen meant no disrespect to the court. The problem was that his PDA (personal digital assistant, for those one or two attorneys who do not own one) had been checked at the courthouse door. Without it, Cohen could not consult his calendar.

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