Friday, February 11, 2011

NM: Two pieces of legislation to restrict or end court e-filing

Numerous state legislatures have been exceptionally active in promoting or advancing bills to permit or require e-filing in state courts. New Mexico's Senate, however, may be the first state legislative chamber be to actively working against such efforts.

SB 328 repeals the judiciary's "electronic services fund" and transfers the balance to the state's general fund. According to the fiscal impact note prepared by the Legislative Finance Committee, "SB 328 would effectively end the ability of courts to implement efiling in New Mexico."

The same senator that authored SB 328 has also introduced this week SB 388 which declares the state's courts "shall not charge an electronic services fee to persons who choose not to use electronic services and shall allow persons to file and access documents without using electronic services."

SB 328 is in the Senate Judiciary Committee, while SB 388 is in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.

Cross-posted at the Gavel to Gavel blog

Projects in Progress - February, 2011

The CTB receives PR announcements from companies regarding court technology projects.  Some recent ones are:

From Tyler Technologies:

January 27, 2011 – Tyler Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: TYL) announced today it has signed a contract with Pinellas County, Florida, for Tyler’s Odyssey® integrated justice suite. The agreement, valued at approximately $6.8 million, includes software licenses, professional services, maintenance and support.

February 3, 2011 – Tyler Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: TYL) has signed a contract valued at approximately $10 million to provide its Odyssey® integrated justice suite to Fulton County, Georgia. Fulton County, which has a population of more than one million and is home to Atlanta, has invested in a broad range of Tyler’s Odyssey applications including Case Manager, Prosecutor, Supervision, Law Enforcement, Jail Manager, Financial Manager and Public Access.

Orange County, California Expands E-Filing with OneLegal

Novato, CA, February 03, 2011 --( Recently, the Superior Court of California, County of Orange posted an advisory on their website: “eFILING AVAILABLE FOR ALL CIVIL CASES.” The advisory speaks to the court’s desire to run more efficiently while faced with looming state budget cuts.

In a recent report by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), several Superior Courts in California were identified as overfunded, though long lines at many courts’ filing windows and reduced hours seem to tell an entirely different story. The LAO’s claim has already received a strong, public rebuttal from the San Francisco Superior Court.

While the LAO and courts continue their debate, Orange County Superior Court is taking action. In early 2010, the Court contracted with Novato based One Legal LLC to build and manage an electronic portal to the Court that allows legal professionals to electronically file and serve legal documents for Civil cases in a secure environment. The Court’s website states, “Because the Court expects there to be less money to operate the courts in the future, we must find less costly ways to process the existing volume of filings with fewer staff. The new eFiling system will reduce the cost to the Court by delivering both the document and information about the document directly into the Court’s data systems.”

A fifty percent increase in expected filings within the first six months is proof the new system is working. “This is another step in the Orange County Superior Court’s transition to an all electronic record that provides better, faster access to court records for everyone at a lower cost to the taxpayer,” said Orange County Court Executive Officer Alan Carlson in an eFiling case study done by One Legal.

CourtCall Saves Time and Money and CO2

In a press release date December 9, 2010, CourtCall noted:

"In  2010,  alone,  Judges  helped  lawyers  to  skip  over  1,000,000  trips  to  and  from  courts  in State, Federal and Bankruptcy Courts in both the largest and smallest Courts one can imagine and  they  are  to  be  applauded,”  said  Bob  Alvarado,  CourtCall’s  CEO. 'That  conservatively converts to over $150,000,000.00 in attorney time savings and the elimination of tons of CO2,' observed  Mark  S.  Wapnick,  CourtCall’s  President,  who  conceived  of  the  turn-key  telephonic appearance program."

Monday, February 7, 2011

PDF/A, more than just archiving

Everyone knows what a PDF document is. But few understand the different versions of PDF and in particular, the national and international standards that have created that govern the format. A brief introduction to the subject is contained in the Future Trends 2010 article: Electronic Documents: Benefits and Potential Pitfalls.

The following article by Thomas Zellerman is reprinted with permission from the PDF/A Competence Center(1) January, 2011 Newsletter lists other aims for the PDF/A standards work that could potentially benefit the courts and legal process.

"The obvious reason anybody looks at adopting PDF/A is because they have a need to keep good archives for a certain time. Good may mean they want to be able to have exact visual reproduction of the documents in the archive, or it may go further and they might want to also guarantee semantic correctness of the documents. Likewise the range of meanings for a “certain time” may span from 7 to 10 years for tax papers, or to forever for libraries or national archives. But in most projects, people remain very focused on the archival side of the problem and the risk is that other opportunities are missed as a result.

That is a shame: taking a step back and looking at PDF/A as an ISO standard amongst many other similar PDF-based ISO standards can show additional opportunities and reasons to standardize on PDF/A.

So lets take a step back: PDF/A is an ISO standard based on another ISO standard, PDF (ISO 32000). This means that PDF/A documents are PDF files on which additional restrictions and demands are
placed. And following that same method, the ISO has developed and is still developing a number of
other standards that can be very interesting for companies looking at PDF/A. Some examples:

  • PDF/X was the first PDF-based standard adopted and further developed by the ISO. As far back as 2001, ISO PDF/X was created to allow the use of PDF files in the print and publishing market.
  • PDF/E is an ISO standard for use in engineering workflows, allowing for 3D drawings in PDF files.
  • PDF/UA is becoming an ISO standard to create standardized accessible documents; allowing for example visually impaired people to use screen-reader applications with PDF files in a reliable way.

Does that mean that companies looking at PDF/A today should instead adopt all of these standards?  Not necessarily, but it would be a good thing to at least look at those other standards and understand how they could play a role.

It is also important when evaluating tools for use in PDF/A workflows. While some tools focus exclusively on PDF/A, there are certainly also tools on the market that add value towards some or all of these additional standards. And if such standards now or in the future hold value for a company, the selection of which tools are used should follow that realization.

And lastly, knowing those other standards is important when building the business case around adoption of PDF/A in a company. Additional demands such as the necessity to print or publish archived documents or convert them into accessible documents may very well change the scope of the project and lend additional credibility to standardizing on PDF/A as a way to prepare for things to come."

(1) As stated on their website: "The aim of the PDF/A Competence Center is to promote the exchange of information and experience in the area of long-term archiving in accordance with ISO 19005: PDF/A."