Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Huge End of August 2014 This and That in Court Tech

Lots of news from and for our court and justice corner of the technology universe.


California AOC Approves Plan for Court Technology

Via Press Release: August 22, 2014
“At its public meeting on August 21-22, the Judicial Council approved a recommendation from its Technology Committee on a governance and strategic plan for court technology. The plan provides a structure and roadmap for technology initiatives and will increase the transparency and accountability of how funds are managed for technology projects in the judicial branch.” 
“The courts need an updated technology plan in order to better serve the public and our users by keeping the electronic courthouse doors open,” said Judge James E. Herman, advisory member of the Judicial Council and chair of its Technology Committee. “The Chief Justice has made it clear that remote access through technology is a vital part of her 3D access to justice program. These planning documents are a grassroots effort involving 19 trial courts and 3 appellate courts, supported by the Judicial Council's Information Technology staff. The effort has also benefitted from input provided by presiding judges, branch stakeholders, and the public.”
And of note…
“Funding for Document Management System: The council approved a recommendation from its Technology Committee to submit a budget change proposal to the state Department of Finance for a document management system for the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal. The system would improve efficiency, reduce costs associated with record storage and retrieval, and improve customer service to the bar and public.”
To see/download the full PDF plan and funding proposal document click here.

NCSC Reading Room: Improving Operations via E-Courtrooms, remote video

From @The Center newsletter, August 2014:

“Last fall, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), with funding support from the State Justice Institute (SJI), provided the Circuit Court in Volusia County, Florida consulting assistance “to assess the space arrangement of existing courtrooms in Volusia County, and develop a set of guiding planning concepts and new standardized courtroom layout plans for future Volusia County court facility implementation.  The goals of this project were to intelligently determine how Volusia County may develop new courtrooms in the future to support the evolving e-courtroom environment and present day workflow processes.” The final report, Volusia County, Florida E-Courtroom Requirements and Design Concepts, offers diagrams, floor plans, photographs, and models to help illustrate functional design concepts for courtrooms today and in the future.  This title and others covering court design and e-courtroom requirements are available through the NCSC Library’s online catalog" at:

Facebook’s Template-Based Conflict Resolution System Walkthrough

Court designers and developers may learn some things about user useful systems in Ms. Mary Novak’s blog walkthrough of Facebook’s User Conflict Resolution System.  The post begins:
“This post illustrates my recent discussion of the template-based online conflict resolution system Facebook has implemented for user disputes. The system asks users a series of questions, and suggests possible resolutions based on their answers. In some cases, Facebook may offer a user a pre-written message, filled out with a computerized template, to use as [...]"
This guided design approach is becoming more and more popular.  This is yet another example.

FBI Completing Digitization Program

The project to digitize tens of millions of fingerprint cards and other photos and documents is finally being completed.  From their press release on August 22, 2014:
“The era of sliding drawers full of aging FBI files is drawing to a close. Millions of fingerprint cards, criminal history folders, and civil identity files that once filled rows upon rows of cabinets—and expansive warehouses—have been methodically converted into ones and zeroes." 
"The digital conversion of more than 30 million records—and as many as 83 million fingerprint cards—comes as the FBI fully activates its Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, a state-of-the-art digital platform of biometric and other types of identity information. The system, which is incrementally replacing the Bureau’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or IAFIS, will better serve our most prolific customers—law enforcement agencies checking criminal histories and fingerprints, veterans, government employees, and the FBI’s own Laboratory.”
The full press release web page has video of the old file cabinets along with a photo gallery history that is interesting to see.  It is also a preview of what many courts have and will see in upcoming years.

The Laws of Legal Robotics

The legal profession is being shook to its core by automation.  This past week I enjoyed a paper and website by American Bar Association 2014 “Legal Rebel” Tim Hwang titled “The Laws of Legal Robotics” (PDF). Of note he writes:
 “One promising frontier of research and development is around computable contracts, the representation of legal obligations in a computer-processable format. Such technology addresses an existing limit to automation: at the moment, computers have no method to “understand” the semantic content of the legal language and data that they process. Rendering rules and obligations in a machine-readable format unlocks the ability for automation to take on the more sophisticated legal tasks that previously were the exclusive province of professional expertise.”
Considering this work, our judicial decision support systems planning should include these concepts as “computer-processible format” documents will be submitted as pleading and evidence in the future.

San Diego County California Criminal CMS Moves from Mainframe

In what I thought was an article from 1999, our friends at Government Technology magazine reported on August 15, 2014 that:
“San Diego County intends to take its 1970s-era case management system off the mainframe in a project officials hope will make life easier for the Sheriff’s Department, Superior Court and 50 other agencies. 
The Criminal Case Management System, Called “JURIS,” provides real-time updates, data transfers, reports, forms, data exchanges, alerts and other features. The system is currently housed in an IBM mainframe in a Hewlett-Packard Tier 4 data center located in Plano, Texas, according to county documents. HP manages the county’s IT. 
JURIS is built on legacy COBOL code with VSAM file storage, and the county wants to migrate to a Wintel platform and Microsoft SQL Server Database.”
Click here to read the full article.

Earthquake Results in Power Surge Protector Failure

Because a lot of courts are located in areas with less than adequate power, I thought that this ComputerWorld article on the aftermath of the Napa, California earthquakes and resulting electrical power surges was worth passing along.  It notes:
“The quake may have exposed the limitations of surge protectors that are designed to handle the transient power spikes of lightning strikes or from a home coffee maker shorting out, not the kind of power grid disruptions delivered by an earthquake.”
Click here to read the full article.

More iPad/iPhone Document Camera/Scanning Station Designs

Last, some of you might remember our May 1, 2014 article on using your smart phone or tablet as a scanner.  Somebody has built a “Pinterest” gallery of various stands that have been built for doing just that at:

The ingenuity shown is fantastic.

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