Friday, March 8, 2013

This and That in Court Technology - March 2013

News we have heard from the world of court technology.


Court Tech Related Legislative Action

Thanks to Bill Raftery at another of our excellent NCSC blogs, Gavel to Gavel we recently learned:

First, the Michigan House approved a plan to effectively repeal most statutes related to court records retention in favor of letting the judiciary set the rules. HB 4064 as committee amended deletes almost all statutes related to retention of, access to, and destruction of records and mediums in which a record may be produced. It also removes a provision in law prohibiting probate court records, except otherwise provided by law, to be inspected without charge by all interested persons.

Second, the Oklahoma Senate Rules Committee has preliminarily approved a board ban on the use of electronic devices in courtrooms.

And third, Illinois state senate bill SB 1768 states that the Supreme Court would be able to alter certain specified fees related to the appellate court filing fees (705 ILCS 25/3 & 705 ILCS 105/28) with revenues generated going to a Reviewing Court Case Management System Fund. The new fund would be a non-appropriated trust fund held separate and apart from State moneys. The Supreme Court would then be allowed to use the fund for two purposes: electronic filing and electronic case management systems.

Fairfax Virginia Circuit Court Changes Policy on Cellphones in their Courthouse

In contrast to the Oklahoma legislative action mentioned above, from Virginia Lawyers Weekly on March 4, 2013 we learned that the judges in Fairfax Circuit Court have changed their policy on electronic devices to allow use with restrictions.

To download a PDF copy of the court's order click here.

US Federal Courts Report on eJuror System Use

Via press release sent on March 5, 2013

"With three-quarters of all U.S. District Courts now allowing prospective jurors to fill out forms online, the U.S. Courts website has eased user access by creating a national directory of courts participating in the eJuror program.

Seventy-two of the nation's 94 district courts have adopted eJuror, up from 46 in February 2011. The system was introduced in late 2008 to simplify the process for prospective jurors, and to save federal courts money by reducing postage costs and paperwork associated with the jury process.

Under eJuror, potential jurors can avoid the mail system, responding to questionnaire forms and summons online. They also can update personal information, check when they need to report for jury service, submit a request to be excused, or to receive a deferral, and select an alternative time to serve. The system can be used from any location, 24 hours a day.

Participating courts usually have an eJuror link prominently placed on their web sites. To increase convenience, a national directory has been added to the U.S. Courts website. Site visitors who click on the Jury Service page can quickly access a national directory of jury information pages for all 94 federal district courts. The directory provides additional links to eJuror pages for the 72 participating courts, which enables prospective jurors to log directly into the system.

Jury candidates may also use the traditional paper process if they choose.

More information about eJuror is available in this video."

Big Data Meets Big Law

In an article in Law Technology News published on December 27, 2012 the question of "Can you win the case" was explored.

The article begins:

"Legal scholars, computer science engineers, and commercial companies are building databases and using algorithms to crunch massive amounts of historical legal data to identify the significant factors that influence particular legal outcomes. 
These experts say that such factors can then be used to predict what will happen in future scenarios. Called quantitative legal prediction, it's basically what happens when the latest technology trend — called "big data" — meets the law. And it just might change how corporate general counsel and BigLaw manage legal matters and costs, how they craft legal arguments, and whether, how, and where they file a lawsuit. 
The trick, however, is getting usable data. So far, finding comprehensive legal data in a form that computers can handle has proven difficult. Unless that problem is solved, the technology may have a more limited impact. Already, though, quantitative legal prediction has started "coming in at the edges of tasks that lawyers do," says Daniel Katz, assistant professor at Michigan State University College of Law. E-discovery, for example, uses algorithms to review reams of documents and predict which are likely to be relevant in a given case."
To read the full article click here.

Keeping Cloud Documents Safe

And last, some of you might have noticed I use "Google Drive" with this blog.  My view is that cloud storage is great when you want to share data with everyone.  But one must be careful if you want to use it to store or share more sensitive information.  If you use Dropbox or other similar services you might want to consider encrypting your files before you store them on these services.

An excellent tutorial on how to do this with Dropbox was posted on the Life Hacker website.  Click here to view the simple instructions on how to do this.

And another article: 5 Ways to Securely Encrypt Your Files In The Cloud also provides some more advice on the topic.

Remember "just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me".

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