Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An early July, 2015 edition of This and That in Court Technology

A summer Iowa corn field
Lots and lots to share including news from Iowa, Texas, Arkansas,  US Federal Court’s OSCAR system, a new records management app, and tips for “mobile warriors”.


Iowa Completes E-Filing Rollout

In a news release on July 1, 2015 the Iowa Judicial Branch announced that statewide electronic filing implementation is complete!  They wrote:

“Today, Iowans with a case on file in any of the state's 99 counties can now file documents using the Internet and view the court docket and court documents for their case online from an office or home computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The statewide implementation of electronic filing in Iowa's courts is complete.
The project began five years ago when the first court document was successfully filed electronically in the Plymouth County Clerk of Court Office. Yesterday, the project was completed when documents were filed electronically in the Allamakee, Chickasaw, Howard and Winneshiek county courthouses using the Electronic Document Management System (EDMS).

"This is a truly transformational event that is changing the way the courts operate and serve Iowans," Chief Justice Mark Cady said. "EDMS gives more and more court users, including our citizens, law enforcement officers, the Department of Human Services, and hospitals secure, prompt, and easy access to judges, court records, and the court system. Today, Iowa is the first court system in the nation to have a totally electronic, paperless process for all cases at the district court level, and the appellate court level will be complete later this year."

EDMS is designed to receive and store all court documents electronically. It also sends automatic notices of electronic filings to parties and integrates with the Iowa Court Information System (ICIS). In the five years since the first document was filed in Plymouth County, nearly 2 million cases were filed online or by using one of the public access computers located in courthouses around the state. The EDMS cases included more than 6.5 million documents filed by nearly 88,000 users.

"The Iowa Judicial Branch began contemplating electronic filing in the courts in the late 1990s," Iowa Court Information Systems Director Ken Bosier said. "Today's achievement can be attributed to the dedication of the Judicial Branch IT and contracted staff, and to the many judges, court employees, and court users who volunteered their time and expertise to develop the rules and processes necessary for the success of this innovative project. EDMS is a business project driven by and supported by the many different users of the court system from across the state. The statewide implementation of EDMS positions the Iowa Judicial Branch for the future and is a new chapter in court history."

In their honor we share a picture of an Iowa cornfield in summer.  Congratulations!

But E-Filing is Only One Step

We learned in this article (thanks to Mark Schwartz from One Legal via the LinkedIn e-filing group), “Judges order district clerk not to go paperless, yet” that unless the full life cycle is addressed that there are implementation problems.  The article begins:

“Caught between a rock and a hard place, the Liberty County District Clerk’s Office must now accept only electronically filed documents in civil cases, pursuant to orders from the Texas Supreme Court, but must also maintain paper copies of those same documents by order of the 75th and the 253rd District Courts.”

"The reasons given in the order focus on the inadequacies of the NetData system used by Liberty County, saying in part, “the Judges unanimously concluded that the Net Data storage system was not designed for nor could it be effectively and efficiently used by the Judges to view and review court files, and would result in the Courts being unable, in a timely and efficient manner, to review files in preparation for and during the course of hearings, trials and other matters that come before the Courts.”

A New Record Request/Management “App”

Via our friend, New Mexico Bankruptcy Court Clerk, Norman Meyer we learned about the NextRequest Record App.  The article in Government Technology posted on June 29, 2015 discusses issues regarding public records requests including the fact that there is “no standard requesting methodology”.

The app, NextRequest is “a platform that uses the cloud to handle the constant flow of public records requests and an intuitive dashboard to manage them all”.

For more see the app website at

Arkansas Seeks Assistant Director for Court Information Systems

Director of Court Information Systems Division, Tim Holthoff sent:

“I am pleased to announce the availability of a newly-created position – the Assistant Director of the Court Information Systems Division for the Arkansas Supreme Court, Administrative Office of the Courts.  Interested applicants may apply online at  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

The Administrative Office of the Courts is an agency within the Arkansas judicial branch of government that works to support the state courts on behalf of the Arkansas Supreme Court.  Our mission is to support the Arkansas judiciary and employees of the judicial branch and to assist attorneys and members of the public who rely upon an independent state court system that is efficient, accessible and fair to all.

 The Court Information Systems (CIS) Division is responsible for delivering court technology solutions to the limited jurisdiction, general jurisdiction, and appellate courts of Arkansas.  The CIS Division works closely with the Supreme Court Committee on Automation in fulfilling the Court's goal providing technology to the courts to improve public access and confidence in the judiciary and to provide timely, accurate, and court complete information to justice agencies.

The new position will serve as the assistant CIO/CTO for the Arkansas judiciary.

US Federal Courts Celebrate 10th Anniversary of OSCAR – Online Clerkship Hiring System

Via press release:

“Ten years and approximately 9,000 clerkship position postings ago, the federal Judiciary launched the Online System for Clerkship Applications and Review, or OSCAR. The information and application system created a transparent online law clerk hiring process for applicants and law schools, while giving federal judges a way to communicate their hiring practices and timelines. OSCAR has proved so popular, that in the last decade more than 2.5 million applications have been submitted by prospective law clerks and staff attorneys.

Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie (3rd Cir.) credits Judge James Robertson ( D. DC.), former chair of the Judicial Conference Information Technology Committee, as the driving force behind OSCAR over a decade ago.

As Vanaskie recalls, “Jim Robertson talked about trucks arriving at the court full of applications and having to commandeer the clerk’s office staff in the District of Columbia to unload the trucks and sort through all those applications and get them to the judges’ chambers. It was an enormous task.” Seeing a need, Robertson began OSCAR’s development with a group of judges from the District Courts for the District of Columbia and the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and the Court of Federal Claims.

Over the last 10 years, OSCAR has evolved from a court-managed, local IT initiative to a nationally-supported program that’s a favorite of federal judges hiring law clerks or staff attorneys. Since June 2005, the number of Article III, bankruptcy, and magistrate judges participating in the OSCAR program has grown from 388 to 1,722 in 2014. Seventy-three percent of all federal judges now maintain a hiring profile on OSCAR.

A Mobile Tech Toolkit for the Road

And last, for those of you who might be facing “the great American road trip”, InfoWorld shares their “Road Warrior’s Essential Toolkit” and their “Summer Edition Toolkit” slideshows.  One tip are mobile apps.  Some of my current favorites are:

GasBuddy -
Flightaware -
TVFoodMaps -

Good luck and I just hope you don’t end of at “Wally World”.

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