Technology on the Horizon

What's in this guide?

Summarized results of the 2015 survey and the innovations being put into place by many appellate courts.  

  Main Appellate Page
     
    Summary of Appellate Innovations Survey
     
    Widespread Technology Innovations
     
    Technology Innovations On the Horizon
     
    Preparing the Record
     
    Briefing Stage
     
    Case Assignment/Scheduling
     
    Preparing Opinion/Decision
     
    Other Innovations

For more information about the Appellate Innovations Survey, please email John Doerner.

The following technological applications are used in a handful of responding appellate courts but are being evaluated in others and appear to be gaining acceptance and are likely to be more widely implemented in the near future.  

Electronic Voting 

Courts of Last Resort    

  • Alaska Supreme Court: Is currently working on an upgrade of our case management system that will allow the justices to do more with the system, including viewing documents, ruling on motions, and voting electronically.
  • Texas Supreme Court: Justices can vote electronically on petitions and other matters via the internet.
  • Utah Supreme Court:  The justices vote using a web based application.
  • West Virginia Supreme Court:  This court has an internal electronic exchange system and voting in certain cases.

Intermediate Appellate Courts

  • Iowa Court of Appeals:  Uses SharePoint software to tabulate votes.
Electronic Signatures 

Courts of Last Resort

  • Indiana Supreme Court:  The Court uses a program called DocuSign to submit draft orders electronically to the Chief Justice for consideration and signature.  
  • Minnesota Supreme Court:  The court has adopted electronic signature tools and will expand the use of that tool by other members of the court.  

Intermediate Appellate Courts

  • Washington Court of Appeals, Div II:  Everything is much faster.  Previously, it could take up to 2-3 weeks to sign opinions because remote judges had to be at the courthouse.  Now we sign electronically and opinions can get signed within 48 hours.  

Electronic Circulation of Draft Opinions

Courts of Last Resort

  • Minnesota Supreme Court:  The court has explored and will soon return to an electronic opinion circulation process that can allow multiple members to review a draft opinion at the same time.
  • Texas Supreme Court: The court's technology includes the ability to circulate drafts electronically for comment (not currently used)
  • Utah Supreme Court:  The justices circulate opinions using a web based application.
  • West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

Intermediate Appellate Courts

  • Arizona Court of Appeals, Div 1:  Judges and staff will be able to review briefs and pertinent record documents, as well as prepare and revise draft decisions, and make edits and leave comments for other members of the panel.  
  • Iowa Court of Appeals:  The court uses SharePoint software to tabulate votes and maintain folders for our drafts, circulating   drafts, and "to be filed drafts."
  • Texas Eighth Court of Appeals:  (Other technologies include) routing and approval of opinions.
Paperless Court

Courts of Last Resort
  • Michigan Supreme Court:  The Clerk's Office is completely paperless.  They no longer maintain physical files of the cases and scan anything that is filed in hard copy.  The electronic documents are accessible to internal users through the case management system.

Intermediate Appellate Courts

  • Pennsylvania Superior Court:  In process of taking intermediate steps in achieving a "paperless" office and anticipate the introduction of ERMS (Electronic Record Management System) Workflow enhancements, which have recently been implemented.  The ERMS Workflow Enhancement currently allows chambers to circulate all documents within PACMS without recourse to Outlook or other means of transmittal.  
Appellate Dashboard 

Intermediate Appellate Courts
  • Arizona Court of Appeals, Div 1: Has developed (with vendor assistance) an appellate dashboard using SharePoint technology.  It is a tool that permits judges to quickly view their list of pending appeals, as well as a case details page. From that page, judges and staff can review briefs and pertinent record documents, as well as prepare and revise draft decisions, make edits and leave comments for other members of the panel.  The overall goal is to facilitate collaboration among the judges and their staff of a particular panel on each of the cases they are working on.  This provides a single location, accessible via internet connection where users can view their cases and have quick access to briefs, related record documents, the most current draft of the decision, and the recommend edits from judges on the panel.