Thursday, December 15, 2005

Juvenile Information Sharing Training

Thanks to our friends at the Center for Network Development we received an announcement for two upcoming workshops, Introducing Juvenile Information Sharing (JIS) Guidelines. JIS enables agencies to share essential information through structured procedures and technology. The two workshops will be held from March 20-21 in Arlington, Virginia and April 24-25 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For more information and to receive the flyer and registration form you can contact Ms. Marilyn Webb at the CND in Denver, Colorado at 303-893-6898 or via e-mail at

Friday, December 9, 2005

Clark County Regional Justice Center Videoconferencing

Our good friend Chuck Short, Court Administrator in Clark County, Nevada passed along this press release by Michael Sommermeyer.

The District Court has successfully started the court's first transcontinental trial in Department 17 by linking the courtroom with a remote site in Boston, Mass by video conference.

The videoconferencing trial, presided over by Judge Stefany Miley, allows a bed-confined defendant to participate in the proceedings through a two-way video link using court cameras and the Internet. The proceedings continue today.

This success was made possible by the efforts of Wayne Slater, Justice Court, David DeBoef, County Information Technology and Brian Gilmore, DC Assistant Court Administrator.

For more information please contact Michael Sommermeyer, Court Information Officer, Eighth Judicial District Court Las Vegas Township Justice Court, Regional Justice Center at: (702) 671-4534,

Monday, November 21, 2005

CTC9 Papers Posted

Many educational papers and presentations for CTC9 are now available on the conference website. Subjects such as the "E-Courts Roadmap", "Court Automation Made Simple - How to get the Cutting Edge without Spending a Fortune", and many others are covered.

Monday, October 31, 2005

SJI E-News Interview on Security

The Halloween, 2005 issue of SJI E-News (PDF) contains an inteview with Wendell Shingler who is the Director of the Federal Protective Service. The Federal Protective Service is the organization in charge of court security for US Federal Judges and Courthouses. There is also an article about the Justice Management Institute's new book on courthouse security.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ideas for a Secure Laptop

In its October 10, 2005 edition, Federal Computer Week ran an excellent article on how the US Justice Department is implementing new technology to protect data on laptop computers. A sidebar to the article lists 8 ways to improve security such as implementing encryption and tracking devices on laptop PCs; and the use of removable storage. Let's take three of these ideas one by one.

First, turning on encryption in Windows 2000/XP is pretty simple. According to Microsoft's website you perform the following steps: 
  1. Open Windows Explorer
  2. Right-click the file or folder that you want to encrypt, and then click Properties.
  3. On the General tab, click Advanced.
  4. Select the Encrypt contents to secure data check box.
Encrypting a Microsoft Word document is also a fairly easy affair. If you have a document you wish to secure, first open the document, then go to the Tools menu, select Options, and click on the Security tab. You can then enter the password for that specific document. But of course the danger in all of this encryption is forgetting the password, so rather than writing it on a "sticky note", one might consider an embedded fingerprint scanner such as the one built into a new laptop model when it's time to upgrade.

Second, the idea of a stolen laptop being able to "phone home" is now possible. There is a number of stealth tracking software solutions available that can be installed on your computer. When a laptop is stolen one notifies the service provider and they begin a process of tracking down your computer once it has been connected to the Internet. One could argue that if the thief simply erases the hard disk drive they could thwart this system. However, most computers have hidden sectors on the hard drives where this kind of software can be placed and disguised. And besides, as we know working in the criminal justice system, thieves are often not very clever.

Third, the use of removable storage is a great idea. There are three common ways that this can be accomplished. Currently for under $150 a two gigabyte USB storage flash drive can be purchased. While you won't be able to store your entire library of Beethoven Symphonies on this drive, it should be sufficient for most judges' working document files. A second option is a removable PC Card hard disk drive that contains 5 gigabytes of storage. And finally, for those of you who wish to backup everything on your computer along with your Beethoven, there is the popular Apple iPod (or other alternative) which in the near future will be able to store 60 gigabytes of information.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

US National Archives Awards Electronic Archive Contract

We missed this announcement somehow last month in the run up to CTC9; but after a year long competition the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) held a press conference on September 8, 2005 to announce that the team headed by Lockheed-Martin had won. I have been searching the Internet, but technical details on the new system seem to be in short supply. Federal Computer Week wrote that the plan is to build a multi-tiered platform that will allow new technology and systems to be easily added to the archive. Washington Technology adds that it will be built using open standards. This is definitely something for our court community to watch as we transition to electronic records and archives.

Friday, September 23, 2005

CTC9 a Success!

We are just now recovering from CTC9. What a great conference. First, if you missed the conference, or attended and wanted to share the keynote and several sessions with your colleagues, you can do so via streaming internet video. Go to the CTC Streaming Media website to see keynote sessions by Senator Slade Gordon, former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, and Microsoft's Chris Capossela. Several educational sessions focusing on GJXDM technology and security were also captured.
Too many other things happened during the conference to be discussed in a brief article but, Scott Fairholm wanted to pass along that the Chief Information Technology Officers Consortium (CITOC) held its first meeting during the Wednesday afternoon SIGs. Over 100 state and local court CIOs attended the meeting to hear from Chief Justice Toal (SC) who opened the session and to learn more about how they can be involved in CITOC. If you are a court CIO and missed the session, you can go to the CITOC website to learn more and to join.
Larry Webster noted that he was impressed with the progress that has been made with electronic filing and document managements systems in recent years. And another thing that struck him was how much more important electronic information sharing seems to be to courts than it has in the past. So the good news is that the courts are becoming more electronic and more connected.
Finally we would like to thank everyone who attended the conference for their participation and support. It was wonderful seeing all of our friends and we look forward to CTC10 in Tampa, Florida in October, 2007.

Friday, September 9, 2005

See You in Seattle!

Please come by the National Center for State Courts booth at CTC9 and say "Hi!" We are always happy to see our friends in the court community. There will be information about the various technology programs and initiatives plus a free NCSC Research and Technology CD packed with useful information such as the State Court Guide to Statistical Reporting and the first complete Global Information Exchange Package Documentation for Traffic Citations. See you in Seattle!

Friday, September 2, 2005

ABA Responds to the Aftermath of Katrina

From our friend Larry Smith at the American Bar Association:
The American Bar Association is coordinating with FEMA to provide resources, and will serve as a clearinghouse for lawyers and those in the legal profession who are willing to volunteer, either generally or specifically for law firm clients and for the firms themselves. This week, we (the ABA Law Practice Management Section and others) are also gathering resources that we have previously published on practice interruption/continuation and disaster recovery for the benefit of those practices that cannot continue. These resources will be published both at the LPM and ABA-wide pages, linked through the ABA Web site at We continue to field inquiries on these topics. If any of you have materials that you believe are appropriate for this effort, we encourage you to share them.
Larry C. Smith, Director
Law Practice Management Section
American Bar Association
Phone: 312-988-5661

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wireless in the Courtroom

Submitted by Hon. Kenneth L. Fields, Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County

In mid 2004 the Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County (Phoenix), decided to experiment with wireless service for the parties and counsel in four of its electronic courtrooms. The Court, working with County administration, installed the necessary equipment, developed the necessary protocols and initiated the service in early 2005.

At the present time it is offered as a free service for any attorney, party, witness or spectator on the 4th floor of the East Court Building. The comments from counsel are positive. The ability to have wireless support has lead to many new ideas for litigation support in the Courtroom. Examples are to have your expert available via instant messaging to support your cross examination while the opposing party is presenting its case or having the ability to locate missing documents at the last minute and forwarding them to you while the trial is on-going. Another recent use was to have a witness testifying telephonically coast to coast while the paralegals were sending him copies of exhibits as an e-mail attachment to be viewed during the examination. The costs saving were significant when one considered the alternative of video broadcasting or conferencing the testimony.

The use of wireless is just starting to catch on with the more adept attorneys and is expected to be a routine request in larger trials. For more information, contact Eric Ciminski at

Friday, August 26, 2005

CTC9 Justice Integration Net

New at CTC9, the Justice Integration Net, sponsored by Microsoft Corporation and powered by SAIC, will demonstrate how a jurisdiction can quickly realize the benefits of an integrated justice system. As many court technology experts know, criminal justice integration has been a difficult and expensive enterprise. In addition, issues such as security, authentication and trust have been significant barriers. The Justice Integration Net demonstration will incorporate all of the technologies and components you expect - XML, middleware, digital signatures, speech recognition, and more - and present a framework for evolving standards and solutions, all in a compact demonstration venue adjacent to the NCSC Pavilion in booth number 435. The CTC9 Justice Integration Net will also demonstrate what is possible in integration today using off-the-shelf software and hardware. Presentations will be made on the half-hour for most of the first day and on the hour on the second day of the exhibition.

Monday, August 22, 2005

NCSC Jur-E Bulletin Warning on Identity Theft

The August 5, 2005 edition of the NCSC's Center for Jury Studies Jur-E Bulletin contained the announcement on the latest identity theft scam.
Identity Theft Alert: Courts Beware
It seems that the latest target for those in the identity theft business is the jury system, as Jur-E was made aware of two separate cases this week in which jury programs were being used as a vehicle for obtaining individuals' personal information.
First, in Maricopa County, Arizona, citizens have been the targets of phone calls from individuals claiming to be court officials. These occurrences have drastically increased over the past month. Often, the individual claiming to be an agent of the court indicated that the phone call was in regards to jury service, issuing harsh threats regarding failure to appear and requesting personal information for "verification purposes."
Maricopa County was made aware of the problem when citizens called the court directly to question the validity of the calls, and to complain about the treatment they had received from the individuals posing as court staff. The court reacted swiftly, issuing a statement to the press emphasizing that the court would never request personal information over the phone, and also providing warning signs to prevent identity theft and fraud over the phone. In the press release, the court emphasized that they did not contact individuals over the phone regarding jury duty at any time.
A similar scam was reported in Thurston County, Washington. Again, a resident called the court to report that a man, claiming to be a court official, had called her at home regarding her "failure to appear at jury service." The caller pressed the woman for her Social Security number, name, and date of birth. The court emphasized in their statement to the press that they would never request such information over the phone.
Both of these cases should serve as notification to courts around the country that this type of fraud may be on the rise. Jur-E has heard of other similar cases over the course of the past year, but it seems as though they are increasing in frequency. In both cases in question, courts responded quickly to the claims and made public their policies regarding jury duty and non-response follow-up. This case further emphasizes the importance of jury managers maintaining communication with the general public. See our NCSC KIS department's page on trends in identity theft for more information.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Chris Caposella to be CTC9 Keynoter

One of the presentations that I am most looking forward to at CTC9 is Wednesday morning's keynote address by Chris Capossela of Microsoft. He is currently the Corporate Vice President, Information Worker Product Management Group, which means he is in charge of the new version of Microsoft Office. Because this software is such an overwhelming standard in business and government, any change to this technology is significant. The new version of Office completely embraces the use of XML technology as an integral part of the software. Because of the possibilities such as easier integration between documents and court case management databases, I am very much looking forward to his talk.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

PDF for Lawyers Web Site

Wandering around the web today I found a blog called PDF for Lawyers. It has good information generally about PDF files and has links to information about digital signatures, scanners for lawyers, and, most interesting, PDF redaction

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Federal Judicial Center Weighted Caseload Study

While doing some work last week I stumbled upon the Federal Judicial Center's Weighted Caseload Study web page. This study was the first to use the courts automated case management system to compile event information from over 297,000 cases. The entire report and more importantly, documents relating to the methodology are posted.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

NCSC Court Technology Survey

The National Center for State Courts needs your help. In preparation for the Ninth Court Technology Conference and to provide information directly to you for use in CITOC, we ask that you participate in our first comprehensive online court technology survey. As you know, technology has had a significant impact upon court operations and organization during the past decade. But there has not been a comprehensive survey to determine which and where courts have made these changes.
Our aim is to collect this information this summer, analyze it, and make it available at CTC9 and shortly thereafter online. The survey is self-compiling and so we will be able to make the full raw data set available. We believe that the subsequent report will provide you with a resource as to what courts are investing in technology. Hopefully this will assist you in connecting with courts with similar technology and plans for the future.
For those of you who are on statewide court systems, please note that your state CIO/IT director has previously been contacted. However, we still need information about your courtroom and related technology implementations.
The survey will take approximately 30-40 minutes to complete. If you wish to download a complete copy of the survey in preparation (advised), a PDF version is available.
(The online survey is no longer available.)
If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact Jim McMillan at the National Center for State Courts at

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Israel's New Court Automation System

Microsoft has posted a white paper and slide show on Israel's new court automation program. They write: "the Israeli Court House Management is replacing the manual administration of hardcopy documents used by Israel's courts with a paperless system. Electronic versions of all documents submitted to and issued by the courts will be created using optical character recognition (OCR). Known as the Next Generation Court System (NGCS), the solution will allow lawyers and the public to research case documents 24 hours a day."

Friday, June 17, 2005

AIJA Conference Announcement

Our friend Anne Wallace at the Australian Institute for Judicial Administration passed along this announcement for their next conference:

AIJA Annual Conference, 7-9 October 2005, Wellington, New Zealand

This year, the AIJA will return to New Zealand for its 23rd Annual AIJA Conference. The theme for the conference will be 'Technology, Communication, Innovation,' with a focus on issues arising from the use of the technology in courts and tribunals - in particular, the delivery of electronic services, communication with the media and the public, privacy and access to data, transformation of business processes, and computer-simulated evidence in the courtroom.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

CATO Reminder

Mike Adams, Treasurer for the Conference of Appellate Technology Officials sent us a reminder to register for their annual conference as soon as possible! The conference will take place in Key West, Florida, August 5th - 8th, 2005 in conjunction with the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks. Registration is $350 and the registration form and agenda are both available on their website.

The conference will be held at the Wyndham Casa Marina Resort. For hotel reservations using their group rate go to . (Please reserve your room as soon as possible as space is limited!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

GJXDM Users' Conference Wrap-Up

There were several excellent sessions wrapping up the GJXDM Users' Conference last week in Atlanta, Georgia. The keynote for Friday was a presentation on the parallel efforts of the GJXDM and its use in the creation of the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM). The joint efforts of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are unparalleled.

Watch the CTB for links to the conference papers and presentations when they are posted.

Tagging Legal XHTML Information White Paper

John McClure at Hypergrove Engineering informed us that a White Paper "Tagging Legal XHTML Information" has been published. (This paper is no longer available.) This paper explores the relationship between information schemas ("vocabularies") and a user process described as "information tagging." This process is often necessary in the legal and services industries where information locked in an XHTML format is to be semantically tagged. The 'semantic menus' are generated from an OWL schema of the information models that have been drafted by for legal instruments, contacts, roles, events, properties, objects, and topics, and so for this reason, expert functional users must validate the structure and contents of the information schema. This paper is published by a new organization focused on the integration of XHTML 2.0, the Resource Description Language, and the Dublin Core technologies. Its functional scope is the set of documents that are signed (making them by definition, instruments) and which may have numbered clauses, paragraphs or tables. Supporting schemas, resources, stylesheets, and other information are being published.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Jim Keane

It is with great sadness that we pass along the announcement that Jim Keane passed away on June 10, 2005. Jim was a tireless advocate for the improvement of the legal system through technology. Most recently he was the director of the ABA lawyers section of the E-Courts 2004 conference. Jim was involved in so many activities involving the American Bar Association, Maryland Bar Association, E-Filing, and LegalXML, that it is difficult to list them all. He will be greatly missed by his friends here at the NCSC and elsewhere

Thursday, June 9, 2005

GJXDM - Thursday Morning

I attended three session this morning at the GJXDM Users' Conference being held in Atlanta, Georgia this week.

The first session was about "How Privacy Supports Integrated Justice Systems" presented by Cindy Southworth. Cindy is an advocate and focuses upon the need for protecting domestic violence victims. She pointed out that data on DV victims could potentially emerge on a 911 RMS, or other systems that would allow an abuser to discover their location. So her advice was that privacy and data protection needs to be built into the design and process rules for the database and message technology.

The second session was on the "OASIS Exchange Document Methodology Naming and Design Rules" by John Ruegg from Los Angeles. He is chair of the Integrated Justice Technical Committee for the Names and Design Rules to provide guidance for customization of GJXDM schema structures.

And the third session was on the Maricopa County (Phoenix) ICJIS project. They have done considerable work using GJXDM and have graduated from an EAI (Enterprise Application Intgration) approach to a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

Conference materials are going to be posted. I just don't know where yet. More to come.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

National Judicial College Survey on E-filing

While we are waiting for news from the GJXDM Users' Conference, we received notice today about the publication of a new survey on electronic filing conducted by the National Judicial College and Lexis-Nexis File and Serve. More than 1,500 judges responded to the survey. Some of the key findings from the survey are:
  • Courts Recognize a Continuing Problem with Caseloads and Managing Paper
  • Momentum is Clearly Growing for E-filing
  • Support from Clerks and Legal Community Expected
  • E-filing May Provide a New Source of Non-tax Funding
  • Potential Barriers Identified

Monday, June 6, 2005

CTB at GJXDM Users' Conference

NCSC staff will be posting notes from the GJXDM Users' Conference later this week on the Court Technology Bulletin. Check back here to learn what is being talked about in Atlanta.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Microsoft Announces Next Version of Office Adopts XML

According to Internet News: Microsoft to Adopt XML Formats in Office 12. The next version of the most widely used word processing program on the planet will use XML as a default storage format. Similar to, the new approach will "zip" together all of the necessary XML files into one. What this potentially means for Courts is: First, because the electronic file is XML it could potentially be used for achiving. Second, it will likely be possible for case management vendors and others to be able to do more with output documents and reports. Third, database schemas developed with GJXDM may be able to be used directly in Word or Excel (and other Office applications) to more easily tag and identify data for later automatic storage in your case or document management system. And fourth, as the article mentions, it will increase security since it will become close to impossible to embed computer viruses within a document.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

PBS TV Program - Red Hook Justice

The advanced Red Hook (New York City) Community Court will be featured on a new PBS television film titled "Red Hook Justice". The Community Court has received technical support from the Center for Court Innovation since inception. The program's website describes the court:

"Unlike traditional courts, community courts focus on bringing citizens and the criminal justice system together in order to solve community problems. By integrating the work of traditionally separate agencies - criminal justice operations, social service providers, public defenders, police and community members - community courts are a product of collaboration."

The program airs at various times on PBS and so please be advised to check the film's website or your local television schedule for viewing in your area.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

RFID Technology Tested in Los Angeles Jail

According to "L.A. County Jail to Track Inmates" from RFID News (via Slashdot), the Los Angeles County Jail will be testing RFID technology to track detainees in their facility. (For those of you who don't think they have run into this technology yet, if you have bought or rented a videotape or DVD in the past couple of years you might have noticed a small black "security device" attached to the case. RFID technology is what sets off the scanners located at the exits doors to the store.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Outlook Calendar Tip

The default block of time for Microsoft Outlook Calendar is 30 minutes. A recent tip from the June 7, 2005 edition of PC Magazine (page 107) shows how to easily change that setting. First, start Outlook Calendar. Next, right-click on the time scale shown on the left side of the calendar display. This allows you to set the default time blocks to as little as five minutes. The setting also changes the default amount of time for appointments. But according to PC Magazine it only works in Day or Work Week view. Not surprising since Microsoft packs a lot of information in the 7-day and monthly view. This might be of some help to you busy judges out there.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Wireless Devices in Federal Courts

"The Third Branch" newsletter issued by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has an interesting article on how their courts are dealing with the increasing problems created by wireless devices. In the article "Wireless Devices in Federal Courts " it's stated that "180 million Americans are wireless subscribers" and that "no one-size-fits-all decision is possible at this time."

Monday, May 9, 2005

Press Announcement - The 1st GJXDM Users' Conference

Bureau of Justice Assistance Announces - The First Annual GLOBAL JXDM Users' Conference

WASHINGTON, DC - The Office of Justice Program's (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) announces the first U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Annual Global Justice Extensible Markup Language (XML) Data Model (GJXDM) Users' Conference. The event will feature critical technical and policy-level sessions and important discussions of exemplary implementations using XML technology designed to reduce crime and fight terrorism. It will be held on June 8-10, 2005, in Atlanta, Georgia, and is sponsored in partnership with SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, and the GJXDM Training and Technical Assistance Committee (GTTAC).

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Careful What You Electronically Redact

Recently, a report issued by the Italian defense department tried to use Adobe Acrobat to "redact" the text that was deemed classified by simply changing the color to be the same as the document background. In "Acrobat user gaffe exposes classified Defense information," posted by Government Computer news, an Italian Blogger discovered the problem shortly after the article was posted. Lesson for courts; make sure that sensitive information is completely eliminated from the document before creating the PDF. This may also require saving the document as text first.

Friday, April 15, 2005

GJXDM Users' Conference Registration is Open

1st Annual Global Justice XML Data Model (Global JXDM) Users' Conference registration is now open at the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs website. The conference is scheduled to be held June 8-10 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Utility Computing On Its Way?

There is an interesting article posted by C|Net called Goodbye Computer, Hello World! that reports on Google as a possible challenge to Microsoft in the near future. Google now offers services such as GMail, Google Maps, and soon their new calendaring software that possibly portend the era of what has been called "utility computing."

Monday, March 14, 2005

Cool Simple Software

I received an e-mail today from a company that makes a little piece of utility software called Snapture that looked really useful. Snapture runs on your PC or Laptop. With a push of a button the software captures what you have highlighted and automatically sends it into your Palm or Pocket PC (of course, one must have their Palm or Pocket PC plugged into it's cradle). This would be great for capturing driving directions, notes, or things to read later.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Future of IT

ComputerWorld magazine has posted an interesting series of articles this week on The Future of IT: The Views Ahead. For you ancient IT professionals, there is a sidebar interview with Gordon Bell who is known as the father of the Digital VAX minicomputer, now with Microsoft.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

US Department of Justice Sticks with WordPerfect

The other announcement today via Federal Computer Week was that US-DOJ decided to stay with WordPerfect as their word processor of choice.

But what most of us missed was that Corel (WordPerfect's parent company) had announced in late January an aggressive pricing strategy to hang on to the lawyers by offering WordPerfect Suite's at a discounted price of $115.

US Department of Justice to Begin Data Sharing Program

Federal Computer Week (FCW) reports that the US Department of Justice in beginning a FBI-led effort to share electronic information between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The program is part of the department's Law Enforcement Information Sharing Program (LEISP).

For more information, read DOJ readies regional exchange.

Information about LEISP is available as a PDF report.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

CTC9: September 13-15

Don't forget to start planning to attend the Ninth Court Technology Conference in Seattle, Washington in September. The CTC9 website is up and running at:

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

A Little Bit About Wi-Fi Wireless Networking

1. What is Wi-Fi?

According to my favorite techno-dictionary, Webopedia, it stands for Wireless-Fidelity. Wi-Fi is equipment and software that use several radio and computer standards allowing, say a laptop computer, to wirelessly connect to a computer network. There is a Wireless Access Point that is a radio transceiver (send and receive) station. This station is normally connected to the wired computer network. The user then has their Wi-Fi capability either built into their laptop or can add a PC Card or USB device on their side of the Wi-Fi network to make the connection. So, bottom line is that once a place like a hotel or courthouse has what is called a "Hotspot", computer users can connect to the Internet without plugging in.

2. How would it benefit courthouses specifically?

Wi-Fi provides computer network services to attorneys and even the public who may be called for jury service and want to access their e-mail or even connect back to their home computers or office computer servers. For example, when I travel to Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, I am able to connect to the Internet using my laptop equipped with a Wi-Fi PC Card, then using my VPN (virtual private network) account I am able to access computer servers back in the office where I have stored documents. An attorney could do the same thing in the courthouse. We do recommend that the Wi-Fi services in the courthouse be installed as a separate computer network from internal court network so as to avoid security and performance problems.

The Bernalillo County Courthouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico has also used Wi-Fi for attorneys in the courthouse for voice telephone service.

3. What are the security issues that courthouses can possibly face by using Wi-Fi?

There are unfortunately several security issues. Recently a new piece of software was released that allows persons with their own Wi-Fi laptop to watch the messages being sent in their vicinity on the Wi-Fi network. Simply using encryption technology can overcome this. However, many Wi-Fi networks do not have even the built-in, low-level security enabled. So, for now, the normal Wi-Fi user has to be careful not to send information like credit card numbers through the wireless connection.

4. What can a courthouse do to protect itself from hackers and other security breeches when using Wi-Fi?

I would suggest first that the Wi-Fi network be a physically separate network from the internal government network. Second, that courts perhaps contract with a public wireless service provider so that they do not have to undertake the support cost. This is a similar approach to what airports have done to provide Wi-Fi services to the public. And third, I would investigate the implementation of strong wireless security on the court's network. The Wi-Fi Alliance has information on the security standards that have and are being developed.

Friday, January 7, 2005

Wireless Network Technology Use in the Petersen Case

An article on highlights the use and potential problems in installing wireless networking (Wi-Fi) in the courthouse. In this instance reporters covering the Scott Petersen murder trial in San Mateo County, California were able to send continual text updates from within the courtroom. Read Peterson Case Puts Courtroom Wi-Fi Use on Trial.

E-Courts 2004 Conference Presentations Available

As an FYI, the presentation slides from the E-Courts 2004 conference are now available at the website. It was a great conference with over 500 persons attending.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Just Think About IT

Since it is the beginning of the year, a recent article in ComputerWorld magazine is appropriate to pass along. In this article, the author asks us to reflect on the following points regarding information technology management:
  • What did I learn this year?
  • What did my staff learn this year?
  • Is what you've learned compatible?

Florida Supreme Court Recognized

We missed this earlier but the Florida Supreme Court was honored by InfoWorld Magazine by naming them a member of their InfoWorld 100 list for 2004. The court was recognized for innovation in database integration and for their search portal. The Florida Supreme Court's website is located at: Congratulations!