Monday, February 1, 2016

This and That in Court Tech – February, 2016

Time again for another installment of “This and That”.  We have news about Legal Services Corporation grants, Baton Rouge Louisiana Family Court self-help website, US Federal Court law library changes, an article from Harvard Business Review, Microsoft releasing to open source artificial intelligence framework software, widely varying software licensing costs for police in the UK, and the CTB listed as one of the 50 must read blogs by State Tech Magazine.


LSC Grants and Online Forms

Claudia Johnson from sent along a couple of things for our readers.

First, news that Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has announced open “Letters of Intent to Apply for 2016 Technology Innovation Grant (TIG) Funding”.  LSC program website is located at: and the Notice of Request is available in PDF at:

Second, she also shared her blog post discussing many potential ideas that partners might use or partner with in their grant application regarding self-represented help and online forms. These include:

Replicate LHI Connect for pro bono unbundled clinics and attorney use
Replicate Oklahoma’s new approach to pages for specific content
Produce a mini-guide for your high volume areas
Reinvest in your collection!
Add Live Chat support for your form projects (either within LHI or through your statewide website)
Evaluate your project in more depth
Add depth to your collection – beyond initial pleadings or answers – and also add LEP content
Replicate the New York Consumer/Bay Area Legal Aid Legal Consumer projects
Create an LHI-Powered Expungement project
Leverage library and community partners: Stand up virtual self-help centers and beyond!
Add videos to your forms collections to support users or advocates

I encourage you to read Claudia’s full post by clicking here

Family Court Posts Online Video to help Self-Represented Litigants

While searching the World Wide Web for E-filing project we found a great web page posted by The Family Court in and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  They have posted a lot of information for self-represented litigants along with two terrific videos; “A Guide to Court” and “Introducing Evidence”.

You can see the page at:

PS… I am also impressed that they own the “” URL.

US Federal Court Libraries “Adapt to Deep Cuts, Changing Technology”

On December 21, 2015, The US Courts news posted an article describing the actions that librarians are taking in all 12 regional circuits.  The article states:

“Funding for library spaces, subscription and purchase budgets, and staff positions all have faced sharp cuts. The changes have been driven by new information technologies, which have reduced the need for books and enabled judges and law clerks to do more online research.”

The article continues:

“Despite the cuts, a 2014 survey of circuit judges affirmed that librarians remain critical to the federal courts’ justice mission. Librarians deliver a wide variety of services that courts use in a digital age—training judges, clerks and court staff to use research tools effectively; assisting in publication and communications functions; and monitoring court-related media.

“What we do hasn’t changed, but how we do it has changed quite a bit,” said Patricia K. Michalowskij, circuit librarian for U.S. courts for the District of Columbia Circuit. “You do not see the same foot traffic that you once did see in libraries, but that is not to be misunderstood. Library services are as heavily used as they ever were. I would argue more so.”

“Under a new staffing formula, 254 circuit library positions were authorized nationally in FY 2015, compared with 335 positions in FY 2014. That is a 24 percent fall in just one year.
Similarly, court libraries are playing a significant role in a national Judiciary effort to cut building space 3 percent by 2018. Closures of 10 library facilities have been approved or completed in seven circuits. These include library spaces in Tacoma, Wash.; Wichita, Kans.; Mobile, Ala.; Baton Rouge, La.; Miami; Toledo, Ohio; and New York City; as well as a library annex in Tulsa, Okla.”

The full article is available online at:

Harvard Business Review: To Hire Great Coders, Offer Learning Not Just Money

Over the years many judges and court managers have asked me what to do about the problem of hiring and maintaining good IT talent?  On January 27, 2016 HBR published the above captioned article by Walter Frick.  The article noted that most businesses aren’t Google or Facebook and therefore a business or in our case the courts cannot compete.  They found:

“But there’s a catch, according to a recent working paper by Prasanna Tambe and Xuan Ye of New York University, and Peter Cappelli of Wharton. When it comes to attracting technical talent, salary isn’t all that matters. The better the technology at your company, and the greater the learning opportunity, the better your chances of bringing technical employees on board, and of keeping them."

And while not in the article, I found that it was always very useful to allow technical staff to either take classes or experiment with new technology.  It paid off in keeping them interested and in expanding the staff capabilities.

The full article is available at:   However, please note that in the future it may only be available to subscribers.

“Microsoft Open Sources Its Artificial Brain” software

In significant tech news.  Wired Magazine writes about Microsoft releasing an “artificial intelligence framework it uses to power speech recognition in its Cortana digital assistant and Skype Translate applications.” “The framework, called, CNTK, is based on a branch of artificial intelligence called deep learning, which seeks to help machines do things like recognize photos and videos or understanding human speech by mimicking the structure and functions of the human brain.”

I think it is pretty easy to see that tools like this and similar could would create risk assessment and decision support systems will benefit the courts.  We live in exciting and interesting times.

For the full article click here.

For Microsoft Research’s web page on CNTK go to:

Widely Varying Software License Costs Reported

The Register tech website reported that they discovered via “freedom on information requests” for ten difference police forces in England and Wales paid from 30 to 137 pounds per person for the same software licenses.  The blame was placed on the individual police agencies negotiating separate agreements with the vendors.

For the full article click here

StateTech 50 Blogs

Last, we want to say thanks to State Tech Magazine for naming the Court Technology Bulletin as one of their 50 Must-Read State and Local IT Blogs 2015.  For the complete list click here.

FYI:  Our shamelessly pandering "cat and computer image" was found at:

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