Thursday, April 28, 2011

Connecticut bill would require state, in consultation with judicial branch, establish e-document standards and guidelines

Cross-posted to Gavel to Gavel.

The question of standards for the authentication and storage of e-documents, in particular court documents, is getting more and more legislative attention. Connecticut's HB 6600 of 2011 is a case in point.

Some background is in order.

SB 501 of 2010 created a task force to study converting legislative documents from paper to electronic form. A similar but separate task force was created via HB 5435 of 2010 to study ways in which state agencies and departments could reduce or eliminate duplicative procedures and the amount of paper used and how, when practicable, technology can be employed to help in such reduction or elimination.

The judiciary testified before both task forces. Efforts to end transcription of legislative proceedings were opposed by the judiciary, as witnessed by the testimony of Deputy Chief Court Administrator Judge Patrick l. Carroll, III (page 79). Chief Court Administrator Judge Barbara M. Quinn submitted testimony to the state agency paper task force noting among other things the court's use of e-filing and review of its business processes.

The resulting legislation, HB 6600 of 2011, contains a litany of ways to avoid paper, such as reducing the number of copies of statutes that get distributed (the number going to the judiciary would decrease and probate courts would have to specifically request copies) and moving much of the legislative process online.

For the courts, another element of note is Section 28:
Not later than January 1, 2012, the State Librarian shall, in consultation with the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, the Commissioner of Administrative Services, the Chief Information Officer of the Department of Information Technology, the executive director of the Joint Committee on Legislative Management and the Chief Court Administrator of the judicial branch, establish standards and guidelines for the preservation and authentication of electronic documents. (emphasis added)
HB 6600 was approved by the Joint Government Administration and Elections Committee and is currently pending final action in the House and Senate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

E-Filing coming soon to the Pennsylvania appellate courts

According to the The Legal Intelligencer (subscription required) the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts is hoping to launch an e-filing system for a limited number of appellate filings, including petitions for allowance of appeal to the Supreme Court, by the end of 2011. Justice J. Michael Eakin, the liaison justice for technology in the Pennsylvania courts, said that initially, e-filing will be optional. Superior Court prothonotary Karen R. Bramblett told the Philadelphia Bar Association last week the e-filing system will build on the appellate court's case management system and other existing case management systems, including the statewide criminal case management system.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Court technology is at the forefront of most State of the Judiciary Addresses

At a time of tightening budgets, almost every state chief justice that has made a State of the Judiciary Address in 2011 has touted the benefits (financial or otherwise) of technology and the courts. Below are some highlights from those speeches.

The KIS division of the National Center for State Courts has an archive of 2011, 2010, and previous years State of the Judiciary addresses located here.

Alabama Almost all court forms now online e-forms. Use of direct deposit, online personnel/HR functions. Elimination of AOC weekly mailings in favor of phone/email. Use of computers in lieu of fax machines. Voice response system and website for child support and traffic payments. 100% e-filing for civil matters. Criminal e-filing program being expanded. Applications being developed for Family Court and juvenile cases. All training, registration, etc. for judicial education online. Pilot prison-to-court video hearings.

Alaska Successful Electronic Discovery pilot program (criminal cases). Use of YouTube videos for self-represented litigants. Statewide case management system (CourtView) in all 44 court locations.

Colorado Building statewide e-filing system. 2010 implementation of public access system.

Connecticut Website in English and Spanish.

Georgia 2010 implementation of Supreme Court e-filing system.

More reliance on electronic case management system (JIMS) and expansion in 2010 to e-filing in appellate courts. E-filing to be implemented in criminal courts, followed by civil and family courts. Electronic bench warrant program won two awards in 2010. $15 million through electronic traffic collections system since 2007.

Idaho Provide online assistance through an interactive interview process to complete 160 court-approved forms for litigants. Updates and improvements to statewide case management system (ISTARS). ISTARS use for tax refund interceptions. Work with law enforcement to develop and implement electronic citations. Intend to implement electronic filing of documents in trial courts.

Indiana Electronic system notifies law enforcement when protection order filed and allows for online request for such orders. In future, requestors will receive notice of order by e-mail. Electronic system notifies law enforcement when person adjudicated mentally ill. Tax warrants now sent electronically directly to local courts. 200+ police departments not use Electronic Citation and Warning System. Extensive use of court case management system (Odyssey) in 77 courts in 26 counties. “Indiana’s courts are creating a 21st Century system...”

Iowa Testing e-filing and document retrieval system (EDMS) and expect full implementation in 5-6 years. Website allows online requests for justices and judges to come to communities to speak. Website video cast of Supreme Court proceedings suspended due to budget cuts.

Kansas Use of e-filing.

Maine Previously, eliminated technology duplication. E-filing is ultimate goal. Fines/tickets now paid online. Domestic violence orders and conditions of release on bail are now electronic. Use of centralized electronic warrant repository. Creation of “criminal information electronic broker” to sweep data in criminal cases from the court system into the State Bureau of Identification.

Nebraska Electronic payment system collected over$5 million in traffic fines in 2010, as well as over $2 million in other costs and fines. Electronic filing gaining momentum, with over 50% of new civil filings in county court systems made electronically. Last District Court not already part of unified computer system, will be converted in a matter of weeks; last Juvenile Court in months. Development of on-line interactive court forms. “No branch of this government is working harder to implement technology.”

Nevada Technology in the Courts – web cast, public information portals, E-filing, E-tickets.

New Mexico Expanding use of videoconferencing. New statewide case management system, including conversion of all papers filed in court into e-documents... New remote electronic filing. Work with law enforcement and others to coordinate electronic citations.

North Dakota Upgraded trial court case management system expected to be completed within budget and nearly two months ahead of schedule. Moved into a paper-on-demand environment where documents are electronically filed or scanned and stored as images.

South Carolina “Use of modern technology to automate court processes has been the centerpiece of my administration...” Could not afford a big mainframe computer system, with expensive hardware, software and maintenance cost, Internet-based platform instead. After 10 years have hit goals to create high-speed connectivity, create statewide uniform case management software, create websites for each county Clerk's office and for the state Judicial Branch, create a 24/7 call center providing on-going support for each county, and provide a standardized imaging system for putting paper documents into an automated system. Statewide Court Case Management System now 96 percent deployed; 100 percent in summer 2011. 29 counties IT hosted by S.C. Judicial Department. To pay for system described, business plan is to create a state-owned electronic filing system, based on a minimal fee, less than the federal fees or any other state. Build cost: $5 million. Expected to generate $7 million a year when operational.

South Dakota Updating computer software programs. Vendor selected and recommended a four year implementation program for new case management system. At the end of implementation in 2015, all programs up-to-date and electronic filing a reality.

Utah The push towards “e-everything“. Use of electronic record for all court business in all courts. Already launched e-filing in civil cases, e-payment of fees/fines/restitution, e-documents, e-warrants, e-citations. E-filing of criminal cases developed and awaiting launch of prosecutor's system.

Washington State “The core of what brings our hundreds of courts together every day is the Judicial Information System (JIS). Essentially, JIS equals justice…” Vehicle Related Violations Exchange under development will eliminate the need to physically transfer paper tickets to the courts. Creation of “JusticeNet”, an effort to use technology and broadband capability throughout the state to deliver information and services including courts, libraries, community centers, legal aid and defender organizations, the prosecutors association, the state bar and others.

Wyoming Electronic filing and docket management in the Supreme Court. Docket management system in about half of district courts and e-filing to follow. After district courts, circuit courts. Public computer terminals in some circuit courts already, rest to get terminals by end of 2011. Most judicial districts have video conferencing capability and are learning to use effectively. “next technological leap”: electronic citations and electronic payment of fines.