Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This and That in Court Technology – Late February 2016

A lot of news to share in this edition of our regular roundup of news and events.  We learned about Bots in the UK Courts, a new NCSC Report on Body Worn Cameras and the Courts, an Court Technology Director job opening in Seattle, Washington, Ravel Law judicial analytic services expansion, CenturyLink's new governmental cloud service, Microsoft "Plumbago", Pennsylvania Courts online payment system performance for 2015, and what the deal is with Windows 10 "telemetry" reporting.


The Bots Come to Court

We learned in an article at Business Insider that a 19 year old student created an Internet software “bot” that “handles questions about parking-ticket appeals in the UK”. And, that “(s)ince launching in late, 2015 it has successfully appealed $3 million worth of tickets.”

He has used a conversational Q&A approach that could be very easily adapted to use here in the USA as used previously in the A2J Author and I-CAN! systems.  The article also notes other similar systems such as Acadmx and Lex Machina.  

New NCSC Report – Body Worn Cameras and the Courts

From the February, 2016 edition of the State Justice Institute Newsletter a new NCSC report titled, Body-Worn Cameras and the Courts was announced.  The report goes into many issues regarding the use and video evidence produced by this technology.  Some of the items discussed include:

  • Video and Lost or Destroyed Evidence;
  • Law Enforcement and BWC Policies;
  • Authentication and Publication of Video Evidence;
  • Relevant Case Law, including: Arizona v. Youngblood, Asherman, Merriman, and Durnwald Cases;
  • Statutory Issues;
  • Negative-Inference Instructions to the Jury; and,
  • Freedom-of-Information/Open-Records Statutes.

Click here to access a copy that you can read online or download.

Seattle Washington Municipal Court Seeks Court Technology Director

Thanks to our friends at CITOC we learned of the job announcement for Court Technology Director in Seattle, Washington Municipal Court.  As the Municipal Court is an advanced operation from my experience this is one to consider.  The job announcement is available online here.  The closing deadline for response is March 8, 2016 at 4:00 PM Pacific Time.

Ravel Law Adds to Judicial Analytics Toolset

We learned from attorney Robert Ambrogi’s Law Sites Blog that “Ravel Law Adds Judges, Features to its Judge Analytics Tool”.  He writes:

“Today, Ravel Law introduced an update to its Judge Analytics product that adds both new content and new functionality. The post adds:

More judges. In addition to all federal judges, Judge Analytics now includes appellate judges from New York, California, Florida, Illinois and Delaware. These additions were enabled as a result of new content added to Ravel through the Harvard-Ravel digitization project. (See my posts here and here.) More states will be added in the coming months, according to Ravel CEO Daniel Lewis.
Greater functionality. The tool now provides the ability to dive even deeper into a judge’s history,

Lewis says, exploring how they have ruled on motions and specific topics, with detail about what they grant and deny.

New design and faster speed. “We took a fresh look at Judge Analytics and created a clean, new design, along with a major speed increase,” Lewis says.”

It is very worthwhile to read the entire post for Mr. Ambrogi’s comments and analysis.

CenturyLink Government Cloud Service Started

In a press release on February 16, 2016 the CenturyLink telecommunications company announced that they have “ecently added a new Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering known as CenturyLink Government Cloud to its hybrid IT services portfolio. The cloud service is now available to federal government agencies via CenturyLink's General Services Administration (GSA) Networx contract and is planned to be available on other GSA contracts.

CenturyLink Government Cloud brings together the best of public, private and hybrid cloud offerings, enabling agencies to seamlessly migrate and extend their data center workloads to the cloud while complying with federal security standards. By supplying cloud, colocation and managed hosting services over its carrier-class network, CenturyLink provides government agencies with the security and reliability they need to carry out their missions.
Through the VMware vCloud Air Network Managed Services Provider Model, CenturyLink is using the award-winning VMware vCloud® Government Services™.  This IaaS product is accredited under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), which means it meets the government's rigorous security standards.”

Click here for the full press release.

Microsoft “Plumbago” Makes Your Handwriting Readable

Well maybe not everyone’s handwriting but… on February 19, 2016 an article was posted on Microsoft’s Firehose blog (one of my new favorites) that they have released Plumbago, “aa new app for Windows 8.1 and 10 tablets released through the Microsoft Garage, is a digital notebook with technology that smooths out handwriting so your scribbles are easier to read later. It also contains realistic ink technology and other user friendly features, such as an optimized tool picker designed to reduce the number of taps to access its features, notebook covers and paper selector.

“We were thinking about how to make a great experience that really took advantage of the Surface and its pen, and could replace a physical notebook. There are tactile, perceptive and visual properties about a real notebook that are hard to displace. So our goal was to create a neat Windows app using technology that could potentially displace those physical and perceptive artifacts,” says Gavin Jancke, general manager of engineering in Microsoft Research also serving as the user interface software engineer for the app. “So here we are today with something that will hopefully resonate well with consumers,” who he encourages to help test the experience and give feedback to refine the technology.”

Pennsylvania Courts Collect $92 million Online in 2015

Via press release on February 22, 2016: “Pennsylvania courts collected more than $464.5 million in fees, fines, costs and restitution in 2015, including a record $92 million paid online through PAePay.
PAePay allows people to conveniently make payments via the Internet with a debit or credit card. Online payments increased by 20 percent this year, with a 21 percent increase in the number of transactions or users.

Most of the money collected by the courts is sent to the state, local governments and victims of crime; a small portion of the money is sent to various entities such as airports, parking authorities and libraries.

The judiciary’s case management computer systems have helped the courts improve collections by:

  • generating customized court payment delinquency letters 
  • sharing information with PennDOT for suspension of the driver’s licenses of defendants failing to pay court costs related to traffic violations
  • providing defendant case financial data to outside collection agencies, which are currently used by 42 counties.

The state received $226 million of the total $464.5 million collected by the courts. Counties received $154.3 million and municipalities $46.5 million to support local government programs. Crime victims received a total of $33.9 million in restitution, and various entities received $3.8 million. (See Financial Dashboards for more information.)

The money distributed to support government programs and crime victims came from fees, fines, costs and restitution collected by 517 magisterial district courts and the criminal divisions of the 67 Common Pleas Courts and the Philadelphia Municipal Court.”

Microsoft Windows 10 "Phone Home" Telemetry Explained

For those who may want to know what Microsoft is actually collecting from Windows 10 (as opposed as to what they have been accused of collecting), ZDNet’s excellent columnist Ed Bott explains in this article “Windows 10 telemetry secrets: Where, when, and why Microsoft collects your data”.

Fujitsu Wireless Desktop Scanner

Long time readers might remember that I think highly of Fujitsu scanners.  I just read that they have a scanner that can connect to your smart phone, tablet, or computer wirelessly.  This is something that might be useful to E-filing projects.  Check it out here.

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