Thursday, May 7, 2020

This and That in Court Technology May 2020

In this month’s highlights we share information about the PASS (Public Access Software Spec), our NCSC Tiny Chat about digital signatures, e-notarization and digital notice, Tyler’s Virtual Court offering, virtual court hearings in Nigeria, an electronic hearing practice guide posted by the Trinidad and Tobago Judiciary, and special offers by Microsoft for public safety and non-profits in response to the pandemic.


NCSC Tiny Chat on Digital Signatures and More…

My colleagues at the NCSC, Danielle Hirsch and Zach Zarnow have started a terrific new video blog called Tiny Chat.  Their recent post entertainingly and informatively discussed what the various state birds teach us about digital signatures, notarization, and digital notice? And while the bird pictures don’t provide much additional context, I agree with Danielle and Zach that they are nice to look at during their presentation.

They provide supplemental material to download to go with the vlog. 

And there are more Tiny Chats already posted with more to come here.


PASS Standard Updated

The Professional Background Screening Association and the Consumer Data Industry Association have released their latest data-sharing standard.  They write that their goal is to help courts implement software that improves the quality, accuracy, and efficiency of public records. As you know, there is no consistent format on criminal history public records in the various court systems throughout the nation.  We think that these standards will be very helpful to court staff as they work to improve or upgrade their records systems.

I would also note that they handle expungement notifications with data format in the standard.  I would hope that in-turn they would provide notification of the expungement to their users/customers in turn?

The PASS document (PDF) can be read/downloaded in its entirety here. 

Tyler Technologies Virtual Court Offering

Via press release, April 23 2020 

Tyler Technologies, Inc. announced initial successes for its Tyler Virtual Court™ product, which was officially offered as a 90-day free trial in March 2020 in direct response to COVID-19. Sixty courts have selected this solution to help them conduct court sessions entirely online and can choose to continue with a subscription service once the free trial concludes.

Due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Tyler launched Virtual Court earlier than expected in a free trial format in order to help court clients serve their constituents without interruption. Since the official launch last month, some of the 60 courts already have been fully implemented. One court client, the city of Alvin, Texas, Municipal Court, has seen benefits using the tool to provide essential court services amid the pandemic.

Tyler Virtual Court provides a way for courts to handle cases remotely, removing the burden of having defendants physically appear in a courtroom, while also broadening access to justice for disadvantaged or displaced defendants. With Virtual Court, courts can conduct face-to-face court sessions with remote defendants through a video-chat-enabled virtual session. The solution is supported by real-time case information and document sharing, allowing clients to come to a resolution in one sitting. The mobile, secure platform is maintained and hosted by Tyler on Amazon Web Services and can be accessed on any device…”

“This web-based option can increase appearance rates and allow defendants to quickly resolve fines or set up a payment plan. After the hearing concludes, Tyler Virtual Court sends an automated summary to the defendant with a link to Incode® court's online resolution tool so defendants can take immediate action.”

Nigeria Virtual Court Proceedings

Via the TransparencIT Nigeria Twitter account, we learned that “The Lagos State Judiciary today held its first-ever virtual court proceedings delivering a judgment in a murder and stealing trial involving Olalekan Hameed. The court session, for the charge marked ID/9006C/2019, held online via a video app and was joined by all parties.”

In another part of the country, the Borno State Judiciary is also holding virtual video hearing as described by Hon. Lord Justice Kashim Zannah in this video report.

Trinidad and Tobago Judiciary Posts Practice Guide for Electronic Hearings

My friends in the T&T Judiciary have posted their practice guide on how they are conducting their electronic hearings during the Covid-19 pandemic.  It is available here as a PDF download.

Microsoft Special Offers for Public Safety and Nonprofits

From the Microsoft On the Issues Blog we learned:

“Two and half years ago, we launched Tech for Social Impact within Microsoft Philanthropies to make world-class cloud technology accessible and affordable for nonprofits to drive even greater impact. Today, we’re building on our long-standing support to the nonprofit sector by committing $35 million to double our Microsoft Azure credits, increase our Windows benefits and add new pro bono services to help critical care and first response nonprofits in their efforts to combat COVID-19. “


This offer is prioritized for critical care and first response nonprofits, limited to: health support, human services, public safety, food and nutrition, housing support and COVID-19 research organizations. It is active between now and June 30, 2020, for eligible nonprofits.


  • Double the Azure credit for specified nonprofits from $3,500 to $7,000 to be used within 12 months
  • To support Windows Virtual Desktop scenarios we are making 100 licenses of Windows Upgrade available through our TechSoup donation offer and coupling that with a Windows Enterprise E3 trial for up to 100 seats for six months.  This will provide the base operating system licenses to take advantage of all the Windows Virtual Desktop capabilities for mid-size organizations
  • To help organizations rapidly deploy we are setting up three new remote services free of charge:
    • Azure Onboarding Concierge: To help organizations set up their Azure credit subscription, understand administrator roles, cost management and governance best practices
    • Windows Virtual Desktop Help Desk: To support organizations with technical questions during their deployment of Windows Virtual Desktop, and will engage organizations with a partner or FastTrack for long–term extended support to ensure an efficient and effective deployment
    • Microsoft Community Training (MCT) Concierge: Microsoft Community Training supports personalized learning for a large-scale mobile-based community. This service provides an overview of available content and assists with configuration and deployment 

Getting Started: 

  • Existing eligible organizations:  See these benefits in the Microsoft Nonprofit Portal by clicking the COVID-19 response offer and begin provisioning
  • New eligible organizations: Start by registering through the Microsoft Nonprofit Portal by clicking “get started” to begin the nonprofit validation process and, once approved as an eligible nonprofit that meets the first response and critical care requirements, the Microsoft nonprofit portal will be provisioned with the COVID-19 response offer
  • Additional details: See our FAQ guide .

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