Thursday, January 19, 2017

This and That in Court Technology – January, 2017

Just like the National Football League (USA style pictured here), there is a lot of news regarding digital transformation.  The edition has notes on an American Bar Association report on E-Briefing, Nebraska appellate court E-filing, a Robot Lawyer application for parking tickets, a RAND corporation report on “Future Proofing” justice, commentary on potentially opening California legal publication, and a couple of technologies that need to be sent to the trash bin.

The Transition from E-Filing to E-Briefing

The American Bar Association’s “Council of Appellate Lawyers presented the results of a two-year research project on e-briefing.  The project culminated in a comprehensive report titled The Leap from E-Filing to E-Briefing: Recommendations and Options for Appellate Courts to Improve the Functionality and Readability of E-Briefs.  The report addresses ways to make e-briefs better for everyone.  Rather than simply being paper briefs filed electronically, e-briefs offer internal and external functionality that traditional briefs lack.”

In particular, I found the section regarding issues with external linking in the PDF/A standard interesting (which makes sense because it is for “archiving” documents).  I also liked the chart showing which states have which electronic document standards.

The full report in PDF naturally can be downloaded here.

Nebraska Appellate Courts eFiling System Announcement

In a press release on December 15, 2016:

“Attorneys practicing in Nebraska can now eFile in any level of court in the state.  The county and district courts, separate juvenile courts, Workers’ Compensation Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are all now accepting electronic filings through a single web-based system.  Unified access for attorneys to file documents through a single online structure is the realization of a Nebraska Judicial Branch strategic initiative started in 2008.  With the connection of all state courts into one system, Nebraska has created one of the most comprehensive state eFiling systems in the nation.

“The Court is extremely pleased with the work that has been done to bring this project to completion,” said Chief Justice Mike Heavican.  “While there will always be more projects to design and programs to develop, we take pride in this great accomplishment.”  

The Judicial Branch will continue to expand and enhance their suite of online services which provide an alternative way for attorneys and the public to access court information and conduct business with the courts.  The 2017-2018 technology strategic plan is published on the Judicial Branch website

Judicial Branch eFiling saves courts hundreds of thousands of dollars in repetitive data entry while increasing accuracy in data transfer and recordkeeping.

Robot Lawyer Appeals Traffic Tickets

Several friends sent me the National Public Radio article on “” or “The World’s First Robot Lawyer” that lets recipients of parking tickets “in London and New York City appeal traffic tickets”.

The article says: “The idea behind DoNotPay belongs to Joshua Browder, a 20-year-old student at Stanford University who's originally from London.

He wants to expand the service into San Francisco, so he spends time doing field research, combing the streets, peeking at parking tickets and studying signs. He looks for confusing signage, like one he noticed on a recent visit near the city's Mission District.

"There are two signs," he says after his field trip. "The first one says 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m., you can't park. And that one is fine and clearly marked. But then there's a sign below it that says no parking up to 6 a.m., but there's no start time. ... It's covered up, and it looks like it's been covered up by the local authorities."

Browder's bot has, so far, helped drivers overturn more than 200,000 parking tickets in London, New York and Seattle.

This month it will enter several more cities including San Francisco, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles, the capital of cars and traffic. In Los Angeles, about 40 percent of challenged citations are dismissed.

DoNotPay's success rate is 60 percent, according to Browder.

For more info, you can check out the services website at:

RAND Corporation Issues Report: Future-Proofing Justice

The web page with links to the report is available here.

 The report summary states:

“New technologies have changed the types of data that are routinely collected about citizens on a daily basis. For example, smart devices collect location and communication data, and fitness trackers and medical devices capture physiological and other data. As technology changes, new portable and connected devices have the potential to gather even more information. Such data have great potential utility in criminal justice proceedings, and they are already being used in case preparations, plea negotiations, and trials. But the broad expansion of technological capability also has the potential to stress approaches for ensuring that individuals' constitutional rights are protected through legal processes. In an effort to consider those implications, we convened a panel of criminal justice practitioners, legal scholars, and individuals from the civil liberties community to identify research and other needs to prepare the U.S. legal system both for technologies we are seeing today and for technologies we are likely to see in the future. Through structured brainstorming, the panel explored a wide range of potential issues regarding these technologies, from evidentiary and procedural concerns to questions about the technologies' accuracy and efficient use. Via a Delphi-based prioritization of the results, the panel crafted a research agenda — including best practice and training development, evaluation, and fundamental research efforts — to provide the criminal justice community with the knowledge and capabilities needed to address these important and complex technological questions going forward.”

Key Findings

  • Members of the Technology and Due Process Panel Identified Needs That Fell into Five Key Themes
  • Are You Really Sure? Issues of Data and Analytic Quality for Just Decisions
  • My Technology, Myself: A Blurring Line Between Technology and the Person?
  • Data, Data Everywhere: Mobile Access to Information, Modern Data (Over)Sharing, and the Third-Party Doctrine
  • Smart (Enough) Justice: Building Justice System Expertise for Complex Technical Concerns
  • Virtual Reality, Only Virtually Just? Understanding Whether Virtual Presence, Simulation, and Immersive Presentation Advance or Hinder Justice

Prof. Martin of Cornell Law Comments on California Case Law Publication

Via Rob Richards at LegalInformatics. In an extensive blog post, our good friend, internet pioneer, and former CTC presenter Professor Peter Martin explains that 2017 may be the “Year to Free California’s Case Law ‘for Publication by Any Person’”.

He writes: “Alone among California’s branches of government, the state’s appellate courts remain stuck in a pattern of legal publication designed around books.  Other states now furnish unrestricted digital access to final, official, citable versions of their judicial precedent.  California does not.  The current “official reports” publication contract with LexisNexis runs until June 2017.  At that point the state’s judicial branch could do the same.  There are compelling reasons why it should.”
Let’s just say he has a lot of reasons.  You can read his full post at:

Two Technologies That Should Die

First, in an article that I fully agree with, CNET writes that the “Shambling Corpse of 3D TV Finally Falls Down Dead”.  The author writes:

“LG and Sony, the last two major TV makers to support the 3D feature in their TVs, will stop doing so in 2017. None of their sets, not even high-end models such as their new OLED TVs, will be able to show 3D movies and TV shows.

Samsung dropped 3D support in 2016; Vizio hasn't offered it since 2013. Other smaller names, like Sharp, TCL and Hisense, also failed to announce any 3D-capable TVs at CES 2017.

Second, Microsoft really, really wants Windows 7 to go away.  An article on said:

“Microsoft has kicked off its three-year countdown for Windows 7's end of extended support, warning enterprises they'll pay dearly for sticking with the platform's outdated security compared with Windows 10....

However, as Microsoft has warned, Windows 7, which moved to extended support in 2015, is outdated and will drive up operating costs from remediating malware attacks that wouldn't penetrate Windows 10 systems.”

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