Wednesday, September 21, 2016

This and That in Court Technology – September, 2016

Attendees enjoying e-Courts

We share news about the e-Courts 2016 Conference, the Federal Courts test of prisoner electronic access kiosks, news in the search for a quiet keyboard - now in portable form, questions raised about Australian use of court videoconferencing, a Blockchain notarization service, and a new court podcast in Florida.


e-Courts Conference Fees Increase after September 30, 2016

If you register by September 30th you will save $100 at

Program highlights announced include:

Monday: In addition to our keynote speaker, Professor Gary Marchant, you will hear from the winners of the 2016 NCSC CourtHack. The winners will detail their proposed solutions: “Robot Lawyer”, “Guardianship Monitoring Enhancements” and “Secure City.” The day will end with a reception in the exhibit hall—your first chance to network with exhibitors.

Tuesday: Tom Clarke from NCSC and Margaret Hagan from Stanford Law School will discuss how the courts face falling civil filings, issues with public legitimacy and a large access to justice gap. Several key technology strategies will be identified to mitigate these problems, including innovative ways to interact with potential court users online. Exhibits will continue Wednesday so attendees can learn about the products and services e-Courts exhibitors have to offer.

Wednesday: Judge Nancy Phillips, Dawn North and Andrew Clark from British Columbia will share “New Models for Court Scheduling.” Across 80 locations and 125 judicial officials, the British Columbia Provincial Court was struggling with high collapse rates of court appearances — exceeding 60% for criminal cases. The British Columbia Provincial Court's Scheduling Project employed a highly effective combination of judicial leadership, organizational re-engineering, and technology, and the panelists will share the challenges they encountered and the strategies they adopted to overcome them.

US Federal Court Pilot Prisoner Electronic Filing Kiosk

In a press release on September 13, 2016 we learned:

“Two pilot programs – one that will allow pro se prisoners to file certain federal court documents electronically from a kiosk in a prison and a second that will provide judicial assistance to select district courts with unusually high civil caseloads – were approved today by the Judicial Conference at its biannual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The one-year joint pilot with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) will provide pro se prisoners access to a digital kiosk in BOP facilities in order to file civil cases in the district and appellate courts participating in the pilot. The system will provide a one-way means for transmitting documents from the prisoner to the court, which would docket the filing in its Case Management/Electronic Case Files system. It is anticipated that up to 25 courts will participate in the pilot.

Pro se litigation comprises more than a quarter of the federal Judiciary’s civil caseload and two-thirds of all pro se litigation is initiated by prisoners. Currently, inmates mail filings to courts, which must process and scan the documents. The new e-filing process, which will accommodate typed or hand-written documents, is expected to save time and money for the courts and BOP.

The judicial pilot, approved today by the Judicial Conference, will take place in up to five circuits for three years. It is intended to assist district courts with high civil caseloads in obtaining long- term assistance from judges in courts in the same circuit with lower civil caseloads. This pilot differs from existing procedures for intercircuit and intracircuit assignments by facilitating a more robust use of intracircuit assignments through systematically pairing districts within a circuit in a targeted way.”

The full press release is available here.

Australia Court Videoconferencing Use Questioned

The Australia courts use videoconferencing technology extensively often because of large distances involved in several states.  An article in The Sydney Morning Herald notes the expansion in use in New South Wales courts from 8,605 appearances in 2002 to 44,802 appearances in 2014.  Of course we in court technology are not surprised by this increase due to greatly improved network bandwidth and video resolution.  But the article questions that “(a) lack of face-to-face contact with lawyers before and after proceedings meant "the traditional whispered confidential communication in court is becoming a thing of the past”.  And they note other perceived problems.

The full article is available here.

The Search for a Quiet Keyboard Continues with a New Laptop

In recent weeks Lenovo debuted a new laptop with a unique form factor that does not include a traditional keyboard.  The Lenovo Yoga Book 910 comes with a keyboard that “doubles as a drawing tablet”.  As this article from Engadget somewhat humorously writes:

“Officially it’s called the Halo Keyboard, and if you’ve ever tried to quickly type on a tablet’s software keyboard than you’ll be familiar with the experience. Only it’s a little nicer because the keyboard is separated from the display, so it doesn’t suck up screen real estate, and it has a pleasantly rough texture. It’s also got haptic feedback, which in the case of a touchscreen keyboard is sort of like sticking lipstick on the pig.”

Check out some reviews with pictures here and here for your judge’s holiday present.

Blockchain Notarization

Today we learned about “Stampery” which is using Blockchain technology to notarize (authenticate) data.  They call it “Blockchain Timestamping Technology”.  A Techcrunch article explains that:
“Stampery lets you certify any document by sending an email attachment to your personal Stampery email address. You can also use the company’s website, integrate Stampery in your product thanks to the API, or certify your documents in your Dropbox account directly. Stampery is also working on other services, such as Box.

The company plans to replace notaries by leveraging bitcoin’s blockchain. Stampery issues legally binding proofs for all your sensitive documents. If you need to certify that you are viewing an unmodified document later on, you can prove the existence, integrity and ownership of this document by exploring the blockchain.”

Read the full Techcrunch article for more: “Stampery Now Lets You Certify Documents Using The Blockchain And Your Real Identity

Orange-Osceola County Chief Judge Creates Podcast

And last, on the court social media front we learned in an article, “First-in-state court podcast humanizes judges” published by the Orlando Sentinel that Orange-Osceola Chief Judge Fred Lauten has started a podcast.  The paper writes:

“The show, called "Open Ninth: Conversations Beyond the Courtroom," posts every Monday morning on the court's website. The first of its kind in the state, the podcast hosted by Lauten features personal stories from judges and interviews innovators in the legal field. It kicked off Aug. 15 as part of a communications plan put in place by the Florida Supreme Court that seeks to better connect with citizens.”

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