Thursday, December 1, 2016

Is it Time to Rename CMS?

The term “Case Management Systems” has been appropriated for use in a much wider range of software applications such as insurance and financial organizations.  Is it time to rename and re-brand our main court automation systems?  Maybe?

Many posts here on the Court Technology Bulletin describe the growing capabilities of Court Case Management Systems or CCMS.

But in recent years I have had growing concerns that the concept and capabilities of what we call CMS is being affected and hence confused by a more generic definition of similar systems. For example, AIIM (the Association for Information and Image Management) has written:
"What is Case Management
A “case” is any project, transaction, service or response that is “opened” and “closed” over a period of time to achieve resolution of a problem, claim, request, proposal, development or other complex activity. It is likely to involve multiple persons inside and outside of the organization, with varying relationships to each other, as well as multiple documents and messages. 
Sometimes known as adaptive or dynamic case management, case management endeavors to improve the performance of your organization by putting case information front-and-center rather than considering the process as primary, the way workflow and BPM do.  Such information will be accessed over the entire length of time you are working on a given task and will become the official record for that work. 
Case management is described as operating on bundles of content rather than individual documents or images. A “case” is a compendium of information, processes, advanced analytics, business rules, collaboration, and sometimes social computing that relates to a particular interaction with or issue involving a particular party like a customer, supplier, patient, student, or defendant.  The case file will involve a collection of customer communications, forms, process documents, reports and supporting documentation, and will need to be managed for compliance and audit."
Wikipedia is all over the place defining the subject including “Legal case management” encompassing both systems and management/rule approaches.

But in my opinion, these definitions don’t encompass all the functionality that is currently available in court automation systems.  Functionality that missing, but is included in our court versions are:

  • Court structure – the ability to track all manner of cases including criminal, civil, family, etc. with different processes and data requirements.
  • Financial management (trusts and guardianship)
  • Fines and fees management
  • Penalty administration 
  • E-Filing and data sharing
  • E-Bench & Decision Support

And upcoming is new functionality such as Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) integration.
So with all these capabilities (and more) being built into court systems it may be time to name them something other than a CMS?

But first, I must note here that courts in many locations around the world have called their systems “ECourt”.  That term is a trademark of the Daily Journal Corporation as of 2000 and so it is off the books for this discussion.

I have thought of a few but would love to read your ideas in the comments section below.

So here goes:

  • Electronic Court System (E.C.S.)
  • Enterprise Automated Court (E.A.C.) or maybe Enterprise Court System?
  • Total Automated Court System (pronounced “tacks”)
  • Integrated Case Decision Management system – ICDM (pronounced the horrible - Ick-Dim?)

I am sure that you can do better than I did.  Please share!


  1. Dear Jim,

    Thanks for this post. We are now indeed développing complete solutions for court businesses that are far beyond the traditional definition of CMS you are pointing out in your article.

    As for the name, the simpler the better. I would be inclined to adopt Electronics Court System as you propose. Maybe Digital Court System would sound a little bit more fancy? Last proposal: Court Operating System? Or Court Operations System?

    Being a non-anglophone speaker by birth, I let you appreciate what is more appropriate. Wéll probably continue to use the English in international work and justice systems with other langages. But if not, translation of these would be easy to use as well.


  2. From the First Judicial Circuit of Florida where we have closed the electronic case loop from eFiling to eBench to eService - our IT staff recommends the name "Judicial Electronic Management System" (JEMS).

    And it's strictly a coincidence that those also happen to be James E. McMillan's initials (JEM) - but very appropriate :)

    Craig Van Brussel
    First Judicial Circuit of Florida

  3. Because so many players other than judiciary should be using such a system (if fully integrated), I like using the term justice instead of court. So . . . Justice Users Support Technology: J.U.S.T. (Beats C.U.S.T.)