Saturday, December 19, 2009

US Federal Courts Issue Long Range Plan

The US Federal Judiciary has shared their Long Range Plan for Information Technology, FY 2009 on the Internet.  The introduction of the plan states: " For judges and court staff, using information technology IT is no longer discretionary; rather, it is simply the way they do their work."

Friday, December 18, 2009

E-Courts 2010

Twice the information is coming next year.  The 2010 E-Courts conferences will be held East in Tampa, Florida from September 13-15, 2009 and West in Las Vegas, Nevada from December 6-8.  We are beginning development of the agenda for the conferences that will focus on technology opportunities to be more efficient with less resources as well as on developments in the Justice Reference Architecture and justice information sharing.  But not to fear, E-filing and the conversion to the paper on demand electronic records will still be a major focus.

The updated conference website should be up and running in the new year.  The website address as always is:

Prison Inmates Can E-File in US Federal Court

The November, 2009 issue of The Third Branch newsletter for the US Federal Courts contains an article describing the E-filing system that has been established by the US District Court for the Central District of Illinois for prison inmates from the Pontiac Correctional Facility.  The project allows for scanned PDF documents to be submitted to the court.  The article notes:
Judge Harold Baker C.D. Ill. credits pro se law clerk Cynthia Diane Fears with first proposing the project. Baker said he and his pro se law clerks are very satisfied with its implementation. We’re delighted. Our court will accept e-filing with every other institution willing to work with us, he said.
This edition of the newsletter also contains an article: The 7th Circuit Pilot Program Provides a New Approach to E-Discovery.  The article begins:

Electronically stored information ESI touches all aspects of our lives, said Chief Judge James F. Holderman, Jr N.D. Ill., which means that, when it comes to discovery, it’s really electronic discovery. Yet we rely on the same paper discovery procedures we’ve used for the last century to work for e-discovery. They’re just outdated. We need a new approach.

Friday, December 11, 2009

NCSC and HHS Collaborate on NIEM Messages

The November, 2009 NIEM Newsletter contains an article on the joint NCSC and US Department of Health and Human services development of data exchange templates for:
  • Juvenile Petition
  • Adjudication Order
  • Service Plan
  • Court Report
The article notes that:

A field test in Vermont has revealed that the template can accommodate an overwhelming percentage of use cases without modification.

More E-Reader News and Reviews

Because judges in particular spend inordinate amount of their time reading, we are following developments for E-Readers.  First, a couple of new tech readers/pads are being released.  The first example is the new Barnes and Noble “Nook” reader. Reviews have been posted first at and later at

A second recent announcement regards the device formerly known as the CrunchPad.  It has been renamed the JooJoo magic.  Here is an article about the announcement with some pictures.  (1/11 note: this device ultimately did not enter the market)

And finally, an October, 2009 run-down of the various e-Reader options by can be found at:

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Flash Cookies

Earlier this week I learned of another privacy issue of using your browser on the Internet.  They are generically called, Flash Cookies, but technically known as a Local Share Object. These Flash Cookies are not controlled by the browser cookie controls and will continue to build up in ones system.

Bruce Schneier explains
"Unlike traditional browser cookies, Flash cookies are relatively unknown to web users, and they are not controlled through the cookie privacy controls in a browser. That means even if a user thinks they have cleared their computer of tracking objects, they most likely have not.
What’s even sneakier?

Several services even use the surreptitious data storage to reinstate traditional cookies that a user deleted, which is called re-spawning in homage to video games where zombies come back to life even after being "killed," the report found. So even if a user gets rid of a website’s tracking cookie, that cookie’s unique ID will be assigned back to a new cookie again using the Flash data as the "backup.""
For detailed information see The Electronic Privacy Information Center web page on the subject at:

I have been testing a program called, humourously enough, Cookinator. Seems to be doing a lot of cleaning when I use it and so far have not had any resulting system problems.

Information on the free free Cookienator program can be found at:

(January, 2011 note - we have had excellent success with the C-Cleaner program for this problem)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

7th Conference on Privacy and Public Access to Court Records Announced

The Center for Legal and Court Technology and the NCSC with assistance from the Administrative Office of the US Courts announces the 7th Conference on Privacy and Public Access to Court Records.  The conference will be held on March 4 and 5, 2010 in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Announce agenda topics include:
  • Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going:  A Decade of Court Public Access and Privacy Policy Development
  • Court Public Access Policy Implementation:  Recent Developments
  • Emerging Issues in E-filing and Privacy
  • Bulk Data:  Latest Trends
  • New Media in the Courtroom and at the Courthouse:  Texts, Tweets & Blogs, Oh My!
  • Privacy and the Public Record:  The Big Picture Debate
  • Public Electronic Access to Federal Court Records “PACER”:  New Initiatives, New Challenges
The conference fee is $225.00 with an optional conference dinner priced at $50.

For more information email or or phone the CLCT at: 757-221-2494

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More iPods for Bailiffs and Lawyers too

Back on September 10th I posted an article here on the potential for equipping court bailiffs with iPods.  This week I received a catalog from the Creston company that supplies control systems used in many courtrooms.  I was pleasantly surprised to find an iPod/iPhone Crestron-Mobile-Pro app that lets one create an interface to the control system similar to their custom touch control units.  Click on the link to read more about the app and see screen examples.

And while I was on the subject I decided to do a search for iPhone apps for lawyers.  I found a great webpage titled Our Favorite iPhone Apps for Lawyers that was written following the Spring 2009 American Bar Association TechShow.

It is said that this is where all the technology action is currently.  This is evidence that it is now making an impact on the courts and legal system.

Friday, November 13, 2009

IJIS releases NIEM Conformance guidance for RFPs

On October 30, the IJIS institute announced the NIEM Conformance for RFPs.  The document states that:
"It is intended to be a resource for public safety practitioners who are making decisions with regard to procurement for public safety computer systems that have, or may in the future have, information sharing requirements with other systems. The goal is to help ensure RFPs meet federal grant requirements and national best practices for information sharing, and to provide help in understanding the technology standards and how they relate to product selection. The National Information Exchange Model NIEM, which is most often included in U.S. Department of Justice DOJ and U.S. Department of Homeland Security DHS grant requirements, is a national approach and common vocabulary for information exchange."

"NIEM Conformance for RFPs was developed by the IJIS Institute’s Public Safety Technical Standards Committee IPSTSC and is available online:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ergonomic Mouse Helps

Since early summer your CTB editor has been experiencing hand pain in the tendon connected to the index finger.  After trying different treatment methods including rest, massage, heat, cold, the pain always returned.  Finally today I decided that enough was enough and researched various ergonomic mouse options.  After some online research I narrowed the choices down to two, the Microsoft Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 and the Logitech Performance Mouse MX   Both seemed to do the job of turning the wrist/finger position from a parallel to the table surfact to a more natural tilted position please see the two websites for photos to see what this means.  So off to the store to try them out and I came back with the Microsoft version.  And I must report that there was immediate pain relief.  Of course time will tell if this is a solution, but so far, so good.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dallas County Texas Courts Moving to Electronic Files

According to an article, Dallas County courts moving to all-electronic filing published on October 11, 2009 on, that the Dallas County, Texas District Clerks Office is:

"Converting files for the county criminal, family and civil cases to electronic form and destroying the old-fashioned versions."
The article further notes that:

"Seventeen district clerk employees spent a combined 250 hours scanning thousands of documents in Magnis court over an August weekend."
And in the sidebar - Going Paperless: By the Numbers the article states two significant facts:

  • 75 percent: Amount of requested files from the clerks office that are from the last two years 

  • Jan. 1, 2010: The date Dallas County new criminal cases will no longer generate paper files

Thursday, October 22, 2009

US Federal Courts Move Forward on Automation

On October 9, 2009 the US Federal Courts newsroom website noted the many accomplishments achieved by the CM/ECF system.  The release states:

The federal judiciary's Case Management/Electronic Case Files CM/ECF project revolutionized the way in which the federal courts manage their cases and documents. This easy-to-use system allows attorneys to file documents directly with the court over the Internet and allows courts to file, store, and manage their case files in an easy-to-access, transparent way.
The September, 2009 edition of The Third Branch Newsletter also contained two articles of interest.  The first, Electronic Public Access Program/PACER Assessment Begun, notes:

The Judiciary’s Electronic Public Access Program is looking for user input. The program, which recently celebrated its one-millionth Public Access to Court Electronic Records PACER subscriber, has launched a year-long, comprehensive assessment to identify potential enhancements to existing and new public access services.
The newsletter also contained an article titled: "Reminder to Redact".  As most everyone who works with electronic document information is aware, redaction of sensitive private information is critical.  The article describes the Federal Courts approach to the issue.  It begins:

"Attorneys using the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files CM/ECF system will find they must acknowledge a reminder to redact private information from documents before they access the system. It is part of the Judiciary’s on-going effort to protect privacy in publicly accessible court records by reminding attorneys that it is their responsibility to comply with redaction rules."

"A message is displayed when an attorney logs in to CM/ECF. The attorney is required to check a box on the last line of the reminder to show they have read it. The message also provides links to the Federal Rules regarding redaction. In addition, another reminder message has been added to the screen where the attorney finalizes submission of the filed document. The message asks: 'Have you redacted?'”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

OASIS LegalXML Offers E-Filing Technical Assistance

The OASIS LegalXML Electronic Court Filing ECF Technical Committee has some limited free yes, free! technical assistance available for courts and vendors interested in implementing electronic filing.  The goal of the LegalXML ECF is to create XML based message standards for the transmission of legal documents with the courts; and the latest ECF 4.0 specification is fully conformant with the NIEM and web services standards.

To read more about the work of the ECF go to their webpage at:

To request technical assistance you may contact Jim Cabral at:

Monday, October 12, 2009

NCSC E-Filing Survey Results Posted

The results of the 2009 National Center for State Courts electronic court filing survey have been posted online.

The website contains an interactive Google Map that shows the locations of courts who responded to the survey with links to their answers.  The survey is the most comprehensive to date and contains more than 100 courts and court systems.

Some interesting survey results were found.  Among the results it was found that funding and IT staff resources are seen as the most significant barrier to E-filing implementation.  Since E-filing must be integrated into the courts case and document management workflow, the time and effort to do this has been difficult for courts to absorb in these difficult financial times.  But the survey also found that once E-filing has been implemented in the courts, it works. Courts responded that 100 percent of various case types have been E-filed successfully.

Another significant finding is that while courts have not transitioned to electronic format as their official record, many are in transition.  And while courts are continuing to required clerk review of all electronically submitted documents, half are allowing case initiation via E-filing.

Other findings include:
  • Service of Process still being done by physical mail
  • Redaction of sensitive information by the courts is mixed
  • Sealed documents are submitted primarily in hard copy
  • Evidence is submitted both electronically and hard copy
  • E-filed documents are not available online
  • PDF is by far the most popular document type filed
  • If XML is used by the E-filing system, it is the LegalXML 1.x version

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jury Instruction Videos Available Online

Recently we became aware that two terrific jury instruction videos from the New Mexico and Oregon state judicial systems have been made available online.  The New Mexico video can be viewed via Internet streaming technology at:

The Oregon jury instruction video can be downloaded in both Windows Media and Flash formats at:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2009 NIEM National Training Event Sessions Available Online

Most of the NCSC technology staff are in Baltimore, Maryland this week speaking and participating in the 2009 NIEM National Training Event

On September 30, 2009 the NIEM staff released this message:
"During these difficult economic times the NIEM Program recognizes the challenges facing many NIEM stakeholders and to accommodate those that were unable to attend the NIEM National Training Event, we will be broadcasting live the keynote presentations at the event.

Additionally, the breakout training sessions taking place at this event will be captured and the audio and slideshow presentations will be available for playback shortly after the conclusion of the Training Event.

These valuable resources will be available via the link included below or via the NIEM Web site ."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

CTC-2009 Education Session Videos Available

The NCSC has video recorded many sessions from the CTC-2009 conference and made them available via the Internet to the court community.  Sessions include NPR reporter Ari Shapiro's keynote speech, Super Sessions from the Alabama Courts on their E-everything attitude, and the Korean Courts integrated system.  You can see the selection of available sessions at:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CTC-2009 - Denver, Colorado - September 22-24

We are looking forward to seeing many of you in Denver next week at CTC-2009. Watch the conference website for important announcements. And if you can't make it this year, plan on attending our E-Courts Conference in December, 2010.

The New NCSC Website

On September 16, 2009, National Center for State Courts Vice President for External Affairs, Jesse Rutledge announced the inauguration of the organizations new website at 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

iPods for Bailiffs?

Earlier this year, while working on a courthouse project, our NCSC team had a discussion about technology for an essential courthouse employee, the Bailiff.  Now the Bailiff position is one that is critical for the orderly operation of the courtroom and a vital part of the judge’s team.  But, the Bailiff’s job does not seem to have been impacted by technology advances.  So that got us thinking, what kind of technology device does a Bailiff need other than perhaps a Taser?  Our answers were:

1.    A device that is small and light partially so that it cannot become a weapon
2.    Battery power for a full work day
3.    Wireless communications WiFi and/or cellular connection
4.    Capable of  quiet operation so as to not disturb the courtroom
5.    An easy user interface

The result that we concluded from this short but demanding specification list was that either an Apple iPod Touch or an Apple iPhone could be an answer.  And while we realize that there are other touch screen portable devices that available at this time, for sake of this discussion let’s use these two devices as the examples.

But before we get started, please note that the following scenarios pretty much requires a secure wireless WiFi network meaning that the network passwords are enabled and the data traffic is encrypted be installed throughout the courthouse.  Many courthouses have or are already implementing WiFi and we expect that it will be close to universal in the next few years.

The first and most obvious use of the iPod type system would be for quiet communications.  The iPod would allow the judge or judicial assistant to exchange messages via e-mail or some version of text messaging.  Since there is no keyboard on the iPod, the Bailiff’s typing on the touch-screen would not be audible to the courtroom. This preserves the decorum of the courtroom and allows seamless communication with the Bailiff wherever they are in the courthouse.

A second possible use for the Bailiff’s iPod would be to notify the courtroom of the “queue” of defendants or parties who are ready for the judge.  For criminal matters the Bailiffs may work with the detention officers as to which defendants are ready to be brought to the courtroom.  Bailiffs also check with persons appearing at the courtroom as to the reason for their appearance. I am often rightly questioned when observing courtroom operations as to my presence.  This allows Bailiffs to communicate the attendance to the court.  We have seen this type of activity in the courtroom corridors before a court session.  A wireless device that lists persons expected for that session would facilitate the check-in process with the court in and out of the courtroom.

A third possible use for a Bailiff’s handheld system could be as a detained defendant locator system.  The goal of this function is to simply learn where detained defendants are located in the courthouse.  In large courthouses there are many holding areas and persons are placed wherever practical.  With a portable iPod Touch system there are a myriad of methods that a court could implement to keep track of detained persons and notify Bailiff’s quietly as to their location and status.  A simple approach would be that defendant locations could be e-mailed/text messaged to all Bailiffs.  But a more sophisticated approach would be to create a web page type application that everyone could see via the browser.  This system could potentially be automatically updated from the iPod’s touch screen or via bar code – another article on this in the future.

A fourth possible application for the Bailiff’s iPod would be to view the security video system output.  As more security video systems convert to digital IP based computer format, that output could be viewed by the Bailiff via the WiFi network again, with proper security.  This provides an additional level of personal physical security since the Bailiff could visually check the holding area before entering.  It would also allow Bailiffs to monitor the courtroom and corridors as needed/desired.

A fifth possible application would be to allow some secure doors to be opened via the iPod.  For example, by combining the security video output and electronic door control, a Bailiff could be notified on their iPod if say an attorney calls to be admitted to the secure judge’s chambers area.

Sixth, the Bailiff could carry photos of wanted or dangerous persons on their iPod for reference.  If as is expected this winter, the iPod gains a camera capability they could also use it to take a photo of a “person of interest” to send to local law enforcement for research. 

Last, a quick Google search found that an iPod Touch referred to as iTouch in the following message has already been used for school security:

"I worked for a school district that issued the iTouch to each officer. They came equipped with each student from the officers school information. Schedule, locker number, picture, parents name, address, phone number etc. In addition all departmental emails could be received immediately. Next year the iTouches are due to be online with cameras throughout the district." (retrieved from )
In conclusion, the proposed iPod based system would likely not replace a police band radio that many Bailiffs are equipped. But we believe that it provides some interesting additional possibilities.  But we have almost always found that when we think we have thought of something original here at the NCSC, someone in the courts has already done it.  If so, please let us share your story with here at the Court Tech Bulletin.  And we’re looking forward to seeing the hi-tech Bailiff’s in the courthouse!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Alabama Courthouse Installs Videophones

An in-depth article posted on August 4, 2009 at the Sound and Video Contractor magazine website titled: Installation Spotlight: Limestone County courthouse, Alabama highlights the process and benefits that the court has experience from installation of videophones for initial appearance hearings.  The article states:
"Limestone purchased six 7985G videophones—one for each judge, one for the jail, and one for an on-call Dell E6500 laptop system."

Some Cool New Tech - Late Summer Edition

This summer has seen some interesting tech hardware introductions.  The first is a new touch/pen enabled e-Ink Reader Touch Edition from Sony for $299. A nice review of the system was posted on ZDNet Between the Lines column.

The second interesting new techno-toy is a new Asus Eee PC T91 Netbook that combines small size, light weight and the flexibility of a Tablet PC.  The CNet Reviews website has an article and video on this new offering.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CTC-2009 Website Sessions - Do you have the nerve?

CTC-2009 session panelists NCSC Web Content Editor/Manager, Pam Burton is asking for volunteers for a review of your courts website.  They write:
Two sessions at the 2009 Court Technology Conference in September feature Web-savvy panelists who want to look at YOUR site and share some insights. Really!

And it costs you nothing, beyond the courage to be analyzed before an audience of your peers.

Have a look at the sessions below and submit your site by Friday, Sept. 4, if you would like to be considered for review. Both sessions are designed with theory and best practices up front -- how the sites we review are getting it right and/or how they could improve.
If you wish to read more and respond to Pam please go to THIS LINK.  A short six-question survey form is available there if you want to volunteer.

Justice Served Releases 2009 Top 10 Website Awards

The Court Technology Bulletin received a press release from Justice Served announcing the 2009 winners of their Top 10 Court Website Awards.  To see the awards with links to the winners websites go to:

Friday, July 31, 2009

US Federal Courts on Internet Materials in Opinions

An article in the July, 2009 edition of the US Federal Court newsletter, The Third Branch, titled: Internet Material in Opinions: Citations and Hyperlinking notes recent work by The Judical Conference.  The article states:
"The Judicial Conference has issued a series of suggested practices to assist courts in the use of Internet materials in opinions."
One example of the guidelines is:
"If a webpage is cited, chambers staff preserve the citation by downloading a copy of the site&39;s page and filing it as an attachment to the judicial opinion in the Judiciary&39;s Case Management/Electronic Case Files System."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Graphical Visualization Tools

There has been some very interesting work posted recently at Wolfram Research on graphical presentation of complex relationships.  Everyday courts are faced with complex relationships such as those between family members as well as legal precident and cases.  The Wolfram demonstrations show how these kinds of relationships might be displayed graphically to show both the whole and details of the issue.  But it is difficult to explain how this works without seeing the demonstrations.  The first demonstration, Geneology Graphs from XML allows for several different views of the descendants of first US President, George Washington.  The demonstration can be found at:

A second demonstration, shows graphically how common law legal cases cite one another can be viewed at:

This exciting and interesting work deserves attention from the court community.

In order to interact with the demonstrations you will need to download and install the free Wolfram Mathematica Player 7.  You may have to ask your system manager to allow you to do this if your PC is locked.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

NIEM 2.1

The July 2009 edition of the NIEM Newsletter contains an important article regarding the next release of the National Information Exchange Model NIEM designated as version 2.1.  The article states that the "release candidate is expected to be released for public review and comment late this summer" with the final production release slated for debut in late September at the National NIEM Training Event.  The Training Event is scheduled for Baltimore, Maryland from September 30 to October 2, 2009. The article also notes that this version includes an improvement on the structure for an offense in the Justice domain" as well as harmonization that has reduced many overlapping or duplicate data elements between domains and complete element definitions.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Paper Has A Fingerprint

Earlier this year the Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy published a paper titled - Fingerprinting Blank Paper Using Commodity Scanners.  In other words, paper has a unique fingerprint that can be used to validate vital records such as birth and death certificates.  This technology potentially provides another opportunity to reduce identity crimes due to counterfeit paper documents.

The abstract of the paper states:

This paper presents a novel technique for authenticating physical documents based on random, naturally occurring imperfections in paper texture. We introduce a new method for measuring the three-dimensional surface of a page using only a commodity scanner and without modifying the document in any way. From this physical feature, we generate a concise fingerprint that uniquely identifies the document. Our technique is secure against counterfeiting and robust to harsh handling; it can be used even before any content is printed on a page. It has a wide range of applications, including detecting forged currency and tickets, authenticating passports, and halting counterfeit goods. Document identification could also be applied maliciously to de-anonymize printed surveys and to compromise the secrecy of paper ballots.

Monday, June 15, 2009

E-Ink Devices Growing Larger

Court technologists are watching with interest the introduction of the larger format Kindle DX device from for $489.  The new larger screen DX model sports a 2.5 larger display than the original Kindle models.  In addition, the new system has improved PDF document support.  A couple of interesting reviews were posted on the and Engaget with video websites.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pinellas County Florida releases RFP

Pinellas County, Florida  has released Request for Proposal RFP 089-0408-PJL for the purchase of a Consolidated Justice Case Management System.  A copy of this RFP can be obtained by visiting the Pinellas County Government website  On the left side of the page, please click on Current Bids, and then scroll until you find the Consolidated Justice Case Management System RFP.  Questions pertaining to this RFP can be submitted via email to:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

King County Electronic Court Records System Video

A very nice video showing the King County Electronic Court Records system was posted in early 2009 by the Harvard University Ash Institute on YouTube.  Some great folks from their court including Barbara Miner and Roger Winters are interviewed along with many judges discussing the challenges and benefits of the system

US Federal Courts Look to the Future

The May, 2009 edition of the US Federal Courts The Third Branch newsletter contains an article titled: Looking for the Next Generation of the CM/ECF System.  The article begins:
Over the past decade the federal Judiciarys Case Management/Electronic Case Files CM/ECF system has dramatically streamlined and simplified federal court case filing, management, and access. Now, a group of federal judges and court staff is thinking about the future of that system and asking: If we could change CM/ECF in any way, what would we want the Next Generation system to look like?
As the most successful implementation of a combined court case and document management system in the country, courts everywhere will all be interested in their plans.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Technology Projects Gone Wrong

Technology projects face all manner of difficulties.  Recently, Baseline magazine published an excellent article on Projects Gone Wrong.  We in the courts can learn from these troubled and failed projects both in government and by the private sector.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

New IJIS Blog

A good friend of the NCSC, Mr. Paul Wormeli who is the Executive Director of the IJIS Institute has started a new blog on innovative information technologies and how they apply to justice information sharing and related topics.  He states in his introductory e-mail that:
"We are engaged as a nation in such a radical transformation of the role of IT in government that we need a place to provoke discussion and dialog about how information technology can be used to create useful social outcomes, particularly as it applies to the fields of justice, public safety and homeland security. We also need to ponder how innovative new information technologies, particularly those that might be classed as disruptive, can be explained and presented to the stakeholders in government and industry and therefore applied to practical purpose."

Virginia Institutes Mandatory Videoconferencing

Last week during our visit to the courts in Campbell County, Virginia we learned that in the 2009 session the General Assembly of Virginia amended the law to mandate use of videoconferencing by the state's District Courts.  The bill, H-2108, signed on February 25, 2009 states:
"If two-way electronic video and audio communication is available for use by a district court for the conduct of a hearing to determine bail or to determine representation by counsel, the court shall use such communication in any such proceeding that would otherwise require the transportation of a person from outside the jurisdiction of the court in order to appear in person before the court."
The statute previously permitted documents to be sent electronically and signatures treated as original signatures.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NIEM Tools

The April 2009 of the NIEM National Information Exchange Model Newsletter contains the article: NIEM Tools: An In-Depth Look by Marc Clifton.  In the article Mr. Clifton highlights the various software design tools that have been made available by the project. Tools discussed in the article are:

  •      Search and navigate NIEM part of the Subset Schema Generation Tool SSGT.
  •      Build Schema Subset using SSGT.
  •      Map Information Exchange.
  •      Work With Information Exchange Package Documents IEPDs.
  •      Generate Code List Schemas.
  •      Obtain Migration Assistance.

Israel CMS studied

We recently stumbled across an interesting article by Prof. Orna Rabinovich-Einy that was published in the Spring 2008 issue of the UCLA Journal of Law and Technology titled: Beyond Efficiency: The Transformation of Courts Through Technology PDF link. The paper notes that while technological advances have benefited the court system, procedural changes are also needed.  The paper also notes that the Israel system has a service where attorneys can sign up for a secure government/court supplied E-mail address for $30 for three years as a means to improve security and communications.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CTC 2009 Blog

Highlights of the upcoming CTC 2009 conference that will be held in Denver, Colorado from September 22-24, 2009 are being written about in the conference blog. 

US Federal Courts Highlight Technology Efforts

The April, 2009 edition of the US Federal Courts Newsletter, The Third Branch, is chock full of technology related articles.  They are:
  • Court of Appeals Use E-Technology to Deliver Opinions
  • Innovative IT Programs Link Automation with Court Business Processes four innovative technology projects funded by the Edwin L. Nelson Local Initiatives Program for fiscal year 2009.
  • New Jersey E-Filing Forum Big Draw for Attorneys
  • Courts Sign Up to Offer Juror-Friendly Webpage
Congratulations to the US Federal Courts for extending and taking advantage of new technology opportunities.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Interview with Federal Judge Rosemary M. Collyer

The March, 2009 edition of the US Federal Courts newsletter, The Third Branch, contains a very interesting interview with District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer who served as chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Information Technology in 2008. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

E-Ink in the Courts

We have heard rumors here at NCSC headquarters in Williamsburg that there are judges who have started to use E-Ink technology based devices such as the Amazon Kindle to read and work with their electronic documents.  I remember reading about E-Ink technology in the early 1990’s during its initial development by Xerox PARC the Palo Alto Research Center lab.  E-Ink is a display screen technology that uses:
"millions of tiny microcapsules, about the diameter of a human hair. In one incarnation, each microcapsule contains positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles suspended in a clear fluid. When a negative electric field is applied, the white particles move to the top of the microcapsule where they become visible to the user.  "
For a picture of what this looks like and the rest of this explanatory article, click here.

So what is so great about this technology?  The answer is… persistence.  Once the screen image is updated by the tiny computer inside the device, it holds the image.  In other words, the image is persistent and doesn’t change.  This also means that the reader device uses very little power since it is not continually renewing the display; and thus it can be used for literally days if not weeks before a battery charge is required.  Reports are that the devices are both very lightweight, under 1 pound, and are easier on the eyes to read.

Now judges just don’t read documents, they interact with them.  The Amazon Kindle 2 has a keyboard and a note taking and bookmark capability.  A competitor company, iRex Technologies offers a larger screen device, the Digital Reader 1000S that allows handwritten notes to be added to the documents.  In addition, the devices can be linked via WiFi and the Internet to electronic book and newspapers services to download the latest novel or edition.

For one user’s experience using the Kindle click here.

For a good matrix of the available E-Ink readers in the USA click here.

Finally, please let us know your experience with these E-Ink devices and we’ll pass them along on the CTB.  Happy E-Reading!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Online Lecture: The Business of Public Access to Court Records

Recently we found an online video lecture and slideshow from the Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy presented by Stephen Schultze from Harvard’s Berkman Center and Shubham Mukherjee, a third year law student on the amount of money that the US Federal Courts PACER system generates along with accompanying issues and activities.  The website intro states:
"As government documents are increasingly digitized and put online, two orthogonal approaches to distributing these documents have developed. Under one approach, the documents are made easily and freely accessible. In others, the government retains or introduces barriers to access that are inspired by traditional physical access. When these barriers are fee-based, the government can inadvertently create downstream monopolies or architectures of control over public information."
To enjoy the lecture go to:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NIEM National Training Event Deadline Approaching

An e-mail blast dated March 10, 2009 announced the deadline for submissions in response to the Call for Papers and Participation for the 2009 NIEM National Training Event to be held at the Hilton Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland from September 30 to October 2, 2009 is fast approaching.  Click here to download the Call for Papers PDF document.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tweeting the Courtroom

A March 6, 2009 Associated Press story titled Twitter boosts public access to federal courtrooms reports on the use by a reporter of the: microblogging service Twitter to provide constant updates from a racketeering gang trial.

COSCA/NACM Joint Technology Committee Solicits Review

On March 9, 2009 the Joint Technology Committee JTC of the Conference of State Court Administrators COSCA and the National Association for Court Management NACM are soliciting review of, and comments on the following standards:

• LegalXML Electronic Court Filing 3.1 ECF 3.1 – This version is conformant with the GJXDM
• LegalXML Electronic Court Filing 4.0 ECF 4.0 – This version is conformant with the NIEM

And additional standards relating to Information Sharing for:

• Drug Court Test Request GJXDM
• Drug Court Test Results GJXDM
• Drug Court Case Folder NIEM
• Drug Court Test Request and Results NIEM
• Child Support Request for Remedy GJXDM
• Child Support Court Order GJXDM
• Child Welfare Dependency Petition NIEM
• Child Welfare Adjudication Order NIEM
• NCSC State Court Statistical Guide Submissions NIEM

For more information please download the Request for Comment and Review document PDF.  Comments are due on or before May 15, 2009.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Nevada Supreme Court Expands E-filing

A press release issued on February 19, 2009 announced that the Nevada Supreme Court would begin accepting electronic filing of documents for criminal cases effective on February 23rd.   The press release stated:
The new process is expected to save time and money for the Supreme Court, as well as for attorneys and their clients. No longer will attorneys with criminal appeal cases have to ship or deliver supporting documents to the Supreme Court.
In preparation for the move to e-filing, Supreme Court staff conducted training sessions this year and late last year for a total of nearly 200 attorneys and support staff at both ends of the state. Training was conducted for three days in Las Vegas, two days in Reno, and one day in Carson City. Training will also be offered at the Family Law Conference in Ely in March and a training DVD that includes information from the earlier presentations is in development.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

10 Cents a Gigabyte

Another landmark day in computer technology occurred recently.  I received an ad selling a 1 terabyte disk drive for $89.99 or 10 cents per gigabyte.  Now for comparison what does this mean?  A survey of the Arizona courts found that the paper files both current and past in more than 170 courts could fit on less than 3 terabytes or $270 less tax and shipping worth of drives.  Of course in a real server situation we would want to do a RAID, etc. But the achievement is significant nonetheless.  Other numbers listed in the ad show that the drive would hold:
  • 424 two-hour DVD-quality movies or-
  • 1500 hours of VHS-quality video or
  • 880 days of around-the-clock MP3 audio or
  • 373,000 vivid digital photos or
  • 2132 action-packed games!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mississippi State Courts Developing E-Filing

The Mississippi State Court system have been working toward a comprehensive case management and electronic filing system since 2004. In 2007 they reached an agreement with the US Federal Courts to gain access to their CM/ECF technology to adapt to the state courts.
Recently, a January 15, 2009 article Judicial System to Launch E-filing in The Mississippi Press states that:
"The project would allow judges and attorneys to file court documents electronically through the Mississippi Electronic Court system. Litigants also would be able to view documents online and the state would control public accessibility to chancery, circuit or county court documents.
Participation by trial courts will be voluntary and a Madison County pilot program will be launched early this year."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

NIEM Case Study - NYC Health and Human Services

The January, 2009 edition of the NIEM Newsletter contains a NIEM Case Study from the New York City Health and Human Services-CONNECT project. The project demonstrates the flexibility of the NIEM standard in that they have used it to create a system for an online School Meal application. The article describes the system:
"The parents submit household and income information through the Curam-based application, which is then stored in a relational database. A nightly batch job extracts the data from the database and creates a separate eXtensible Markup Language XML document, using the NIEM-compliant exchange schema, for each submitted application. The XML documents are encrypted and securely transmitted to the DOE Department of Education for processing."

New Tech - iPaper

While reading some financial reports this past weekend on the Internet, the author stumbled across the iPaper technology from Scribd in San Francisco.

The technical idea of the iPaper application is that it allows the normal document formats to be converted to Flash format and then embedded in a website.nbsp Since it uses Flash, the user avoids the need to download documents while maintaining all of the graphical presentation features.nbsp The obvious benefit is better control of documents that are posted on ones website. nbsp nbsp

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Texas Creates Child Support Case Management Standards

In 2008, the Texas Courts created a wealth of design documents and functional requirements for their Texas Data-Enabled Courts for Kids project. The project website notes that the purpose was to help ensure that foster childrens needs for safety, permanency and well-being are met in a timely and complete manner by data-enabling courts to ensure they have the information needed to make appropriate decisions. The full TexDeck project website can be found at:

US Federal Courts Create eJuror System

The December, 2008 edition of the US Federal Courts, The Third Branch newsletter contained an article titled: On-Line eJuror Cuts Costs, Saves Time. The article begins - You can shop on the Web, pay bills on-line, even file income tax returns electronically. Why not submit your juror qualification questionnaire and summons information forms on-line?

Correspondingly, the E-Courts Conference 2009 contained a session by Travis County, Texas on their I-Jury system. You can download their presentation in PDF format here.