Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Electronic Judicial Bench

Hon. Chief Judge Lee E. Hayworth
In an earlier CTB article I wrote about the need for E-filing systems to focus upon the needs of the judiciary in the transition from a paper to electronic environment.  But as usually happens, a court has already made this occur.

Starting in 2009, the judges of the 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida working in conjunction with the Clerk of Court in Manatee County created a system "designed for judges, by judges".

As noted in their project mission statement:

In phase one, the mission is to create an electronic application for judicial users in Manatee County in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit that meets or exceeds the efficiencies of conventional paper files. Using a single judicial document retrieval system “The Manatee Model©”, the judges will have rapid and reliable access across county lines to multiple cases, be able to word search in documents, indexes, and electronic case files. 

The design of the system is that it can be added/layered upon multiple existing case and document management systems.  This approach has great appeal in that judges often must access information from clerk's offices at different levels of government including state, county, and municipalities.

To demonstrate their system, they have created a website with a video written and presented by Chief Judge Lee E. Hayworth (pictured above with his touch screen system in his courtroom) that discusses their design approach and demonstrates the resulting "Manatee Model" system.

R. B. "Chips" Shore, Clerk of Court for Manatee County has also sent the following system screen shots (updated December 7, 2011):

The court also notes that the keys to success in this project are:
  • Product quality and efficacy in real-life judicial bench situations.
  • Utilizing next-generation technology in order to improve upon current systems, while differentiating this project from any other ones tried before.
  • Management:  project delivered on time, costs controlled and a management team of judiciary users. In the past, systems have been developed without input from the actual bench user.  
  • This project makes the courts co-leaders in the development phase. 
  • To develop the process to show that the model will work not only for Twelfth Circuit judicial users, but also for other circuits in the state.
So as in all successful projects, it isn't only the technology, it is the dedication of the participants and good management that make the difference. I strongly recommend viewing the video to learn about the system and to strongly consider the ideas presented.


  1. interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

    Document Management Systems

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. The videos that the judge provides give a good overview of their system. We also hope to have them present at a future technology conference.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. So what happened to the e-filing initiative the clerks had started in 2009-2010? Did that ever get off the ground? I believe it was with e-Universa?

  5. They are participating in the new Florida statewide E-filing initiative. See:

  6. This is in contrast to set media, which these days are most often developed electronically, but don't need devices to be used by the end-user in the created kind.

  7. "Set media"? I'm not sure what you mean. Are you talking about a digital divide issue where less advantaged persons don't have access to electronic tools? In that case many USA state courts provide public work stations that can be used to complete PDF forms or use advanced guided interface systems such as I-Can! and Access 2 Justice.

  8. Lisa sent along the link to the commercial product that resulted from the project we wrote about above. Thanks Lisa.