Thursday, October 13, 2011

Eight Rules of E-filing: Rule #8

Rule Number 8:  E-filing and “Paper on Demand”.  

E-filing (and more specifically electronic documents) provide flexibility in the ability for judges and staff to consume content.  A widely held view (see note 1 below) is that if the judge is better served by printing documents; they should be allowed to print the documents that are needed for the work at hand.  But when done working with those documents they are recycled and/or shredded.  They aren’t maintained as the official record.

But the “Paper on Demand” concept is changing because of portable devices such as tablet (iPad) computers and e-ink readers.  As long ago as 2006, Colorado District Court Judge O. John Kuenhold wrote about his use of his Tablet PC to work with his documents.

Today, Apple’s iPad handles PDF and Microsoft Word document display (with some caveats).  But what about the e-ink devices such as the Kindle and Nook?  Well it is possible to convert Word into ePub formats for those devices.  Again since the converted files are personal "work copies", they do not affect the official court record.

Tomorrow, as discussed at CTC-2011, the new version of the Microsoft Surface technology provides an interactive desktop work surface (think judge’s bench) with touch control.  And manufacturers such as Viewsonic and Elo already produce displays and systems that will benefit from upcoming Windows 8 touch capabilities.

Thus the definition of “Paper on Demand” is changing and growing.  And E-Filing facilitates all manner of “deep” information presentation and interaction that was not possible until today.

Next:  Eight Rules Wrap Up

Note: 1 - The COSCA/NACM Joint Technology Committee produced a series of articles on the Paper on Demand concepts that are available on the NCSC's website. And FACT also produced a CTC-2009 presentation on the subject.

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