Thursday, March 1, 2018

This and That in Court Technology – Early March, 2018

Lady Justice - Supreme Court of Nigeria

This month’s edition we share posts regarding the Court Messaging Project, elimination of paper submissions at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, another good online traffic case dispute resolution story, Code for America CourtBot, Massachusetts Trial Courts eliminating court reporters, and links to the Global Legal Hackathon.

Court Messaging Project

Our friends at the Stanford Legal Design Lab have something new to try, Wise Messenger.  This system came out of their Court Messaging Project.  Wise Messenger is an open source, an out-of-the-box tool for any court or legal services group to send automated messages to their clients.  The overarching goal of the project is to make the court system more navigable and to improve people’s sense of procedural justice — that legal system is fair, comprehensible, and user-friendly.

And they are looking for groups to test the system.  They write:
“As we refine our Wise Messenger software application, we want to get more input from possible partners, to make sure that we are making an intuitive and useful product for them to use. In particular, we are looking for court leaders, clerks, and administrators, who are considering implementing text message systems for their litigants. These might be for self-help information, reminders of deadlines and hearings, or RSVP for court workshops or other events. 
Similarly, we are looking for legal aid groups and clinics who are considering if they could use text messages for intake of clients, RSVP to clinics, reminders for appointments, or surveys after services. 
We will show you our beta Wise Messenger product, look to hear from you about your priorities and needs, and talk to you about how we might be able to partner in the future.”
For more click here.

Nigeria Phasing Out “Manual Forms of Communication” with Supreme Court

A Nigeria Tribune article posted on March 1, 2018, writes:
“FOLLOWING the formal presentation of the legal email system, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen on Friday said the manual forms of communication within the Nigerian Courts will soon be phased out. 
Speaking during the presentation of the legal email system and the newly retrofitted court yesterday at the Supreme Court,  Justice Onnoghen said lawyers who have acquired the legal email can now communicate electronically with courts and each other, pointing out that the system will become mandatory by July 16, 2018. 
“The Supreme Court will only serve processes by electronic means (Legal Email) on all matters, hence, all new filings from 16th July 2018 must bear Counsel’s legal email address”, he said. 
Justice Onnoghen who is also the chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), said the Nigerian Judiciary will remain committed to employing cutting-edge technology to enhance justice administration and added that, the legal email system is a milestone achievement in the quest to enhance justice delivery in the country. 
The legal email system, the CJN said, will serve as a means of communication between Judges, Court staff and lawyers, as well as between lawyers, thereby enabling the exchange of information electronically within the judicial ecosystem. 
Justice Onnoghen implored all Judges and Lawyers to subscribe to, and acquire the legal email, as manual forms of communication within the Nigerian Courts will soon be phased out.”
The NCSC has worked closely with the Nigeria Judicial Council on this and other court technology projects.  Nigeria Legal Mail is a cloud-based system using Microsoft technology that only allows court verified attorneys, judges, and court staff to be members in order to authenticate messages.

Another Good News Online Traffic Case Dispute Resolution Story

We heard about Farmer’s Branch Texas Municipal Court’s Online Case Review in this local news story.  The video is short enough to share with your policymakers.  And they also have e-payment service as well.  Congratulations on the recognition and for being a customer-oriented court.

Code for America CourtBot

We recently learned (although it is 3 years old) about this Code for America system that was built for Atlanta, Georgia.  The web page says:

“CourtBot was built with the city of Atlanta in partnership with the Atlanta Committee for Progress to simplify the process of resolving a traffic citation. After receiving a citation, people are often unsure of what to do next. Should they appear in court, when should they appear, how much will the fine cost, or how can they contend the citation? The default is often to show up at the courthouse and wait in line for hours. CourBot allows the public to find out more information and pay their citations immediately via a text message.”

For more on how CourtBot works click here.  And the code set is posted on GitHub here.

Massachusetts Trial Courts are Eliminating “Official Court Reporter” as of June 30

From an article posted on we learned:

SPRINGFIELD -- The Massachusetts Trial Court is eliminating the position of "official court reporter" as of June 30."
"The action caps a long period of discussions and transition affecting how a record is made of Superior Court criminal proceedings. 
An important figure in criminal proceedings, court reporters produced a verbatim reporting of court proceedings. They produced transcripts of those proceedings. 
The state Trial Court last year installed a new system -- For the Record (FTR) -- to record criminal court proceedings.  
Some of the official court reporters at the beginning of 2018 got "monitor" positions, making sure the FTR system is properly recording proceedings in the courtroom.  
In 2017, the Trial Court employed 37 court reporters statewide -- 31 women and six men. Jennifer Donahue, state Trial Court spokeswoman, said as of the beginning of 2018, 14 official court reporters started as monitors statewide. 
She said the agreement with the union representing the court reporters provides that court reporters who are appointed as court monitors will continue to receive their court reporter salary until June 30."

Last, here is a link to the website that is following the developments in the Global Legal Hackathon that has participants from around the world.  More to come on this in the near future.

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