Technology in the Courts

Resource Guide

"Technology is a powerful enabler that can empower courts to meet core purposes and responsibilities, even while severe economic pressures reduce court staff, reduce hours of operation, and even close court locations. To harness technology for this purpose, serious efforts are needed to examine process-reengineering opportunities, and courts must plan to (a) migrate from document to content management and (b) initiate customer relations management to improve the quality of justice, access to justice, and public trust and confidence in courts as an institution."
-- Chris Crawford

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.


Featured Links

Lewis, Tanya. Brain imaging could let courtroom know you're guilty. (2013).

News account of research indicating brain MRIs may be used in courtrooms in the near future to determine guilty of innocence of criminal defendants.

Dixon, Jr., Hon. Herbert B. The Evolution of a High-Technology Courtroom. (2011). Future Trends in State Courts.

The District of Columbia Courts are evaluating what works best in a high-tech courtroom for making presentations and instructing juries. The courts are also trying to determine whether presentation formats that seem most favored by jurors are in fact the most effective.

Broderick, Jr., Hon. John T. The Changing Face of Justice in a New Century: The Challenges It Poses to State Courts and Court Management. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts.

The world around us is changing rapidly, and so must the courts. By fighting against change and not embracing it, the courts risk becoming irrelevant in the 21st century.

Walker, J. Douglas. Image Recognition Biometric Technologies Make Strides. (2006). Future Trends in State Courts.

Current National Institute of Standards and Technology projects on image-based biometrics reveal impressive gains over the past four years. The justice community, led by law enforcement and corrections but increasingly including the courts, is finding face and iris recognition systems effective for appropriate applications. Courts should prepare to piggyback onto these systems to improve security and administration of justice.

Gibson, Robin. Information Sharing and extensible Markup Language (XML). (2006). Future Trends in State Courts.

Today’s social and political environment places ever increasing demands on courts to share information with other courts and various law-enforcement agencies. One of the most promising technologies that facilitate information sharing is Extensible Markup Language, commonly referred to as XML. XML has been around for a number of years, but it has taken the development of standards and supporting applications to bring this technology to the courts.

Marcus, Hon. Michael H. Smart Sentencing: Public Safety, Public Trust and Confidence Through Evidence-Based Dispositions. (2006). Future Trends in State Courts.

A long-simmering, but often tacit debate questions whether sentencing discretion should reflect best efforts to reduce recidivism. Smart-sentencing trends embrace that responsibility and enlist a wide range of strategies in pursuit of evidence-based decisions that earn public trust and confidence through accountability for public safety.

Shelton, Hon. Donald E. Technology, Popular Culture, and the Court System - Strange Bedfellows?. (2006). Future Trends in State Courts.

The technological revolution is now part of our popular culture and that popular culture is directly reflected in our juries, as it should be in a system that puts its faith in the people. The court system needs to find ways to keep pace.

Webster, Lawrence P. Technology: The NCSC Court IT Governance Model. (2006). Future Trends in State Courts.

Almost all courts are relying more and more on technology to help them do their work. Court leaders of the future, to establish vision and strategic direction for technology, will be adopting an IT governance strategy for their courts. IT governance is a formal structure and process for managing business operations and supporting technology tools.

Clarke, Tom. Trends in Appellate Court Technology. (2005). Future Trends in State Courts.

The appellate courts are now even with or ahead of many trial courts in their adoption and use of technology such as electronic filing, videoconferencing, and Web-based services.

McMillan, James E. Digital Rights Management (DRM) Technology Will Change the Way Courts Work. (2005). Future Trends in State Courts.

New technology will allow courts to better serve the public by protecting digital information. Court technical staff needs to begin working with policy makers to test and then implement this new technology and modify both court and legal processes to take advantage of these new capabilities.

Osborn, Elizabeth R. Webcasting: It's Not Just About Oral Arguments Anymore. (2005). Future Trends in State Courts.

In recent years numerous state courts have either installed webcast equipment or are considering adding it to their courtrooms. While the broadcast of oral arguments is often the impetus behind the adoption of this new technology, it can also be employed for a wide variety of other educational outreach projects.

NCSC's Electronic Filing.

Discusses how e-filing changes the ways courts work and issues such as standards, successes, failures, and lessons learned

Technology.

NCSC Area of Expertise.

Technology Tools.

NCSC Area of Expertise.

Court Technology Bulletin.

This online version of the Court Technology Bulletin features cutting edge information about technology and the court community.  (Note: Digitized copies of the printed version of the  Bulletins from 1989 to 2003 are available in the Digital Archive.)

General

Technology. Center for Court Innovation, Midtown Manhattan, New York The Midtown Court was one of the first in the country to use computer technology to bring up-to-date information into the courtroom.  
2008 Annual Report: IlJIS Implementation Board . (2008). Illinois Integrated Justice Information System This report outlines the current activities of the Board toward the enhanced sharing of justice information throughout Illinois.
Electronic Citation and Warning System (eCWS). Judicial Technology and Automation Committee, Indiana Courts. The Judicial Technology and Automation Committee, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana State Excise Police and several local law enforcement agencies are working together to provide law enforcement officers statewide the ability to produce tickets electronically at the time of a traffic stop.   Web site includes a "Demo" of the electronic system.
Florida Dependency Court Information System. Florida State Courts The development of a standard dependency data management system is critical to ensuring positive outcomes for children and providing case tracking to meet appropriate guidelines.
Harrison, Blake. Funding Justice Information Sharing . (May 2005). National Conference of State Legislatures This report captures the variety of funding mechanisms being employed, including state appropriations, technology funds, user fees, federal sources and public/private partnerships.
JNET: A Case Study. (June 2005). U. S. Department of Justice. Office of Judicial Programs A PowerPoint presentation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Justice Network. -  "From Collaboration to Integration."
Justice Inquiry System . Florida State Courts The Judicial Inquiry System (JIS) is a technology initiative by the State Courts which offers the Judiciary and other criminal justice entities access to a streamlined dashboard in which a user may query multiple data sources through a single point of entry
Walker, Lin. Justice Network, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (1998). Court Technology Bulletin.

The first of three Integrated Criminal Justice Systems Reviews of the most prominent integrated justice systems in 1998: others include the "Colorado Integrated Criminal Justice Information System"; and the "Washington State Justice Information Network".

 

Holmes, Barbara Managed Randomized Judicial Assignment in a Case Management System . (February 2008). Court Information Technology Officers` Consortium: Technology Experience Bulletin: TEB 2008-02 Designing a managed, randomized judicial assignment function involves planning and the development of requirements as well as consideration of the reallocation and randomization techniques to be used.
Mission Impossible: Strong Governance Structures for the Integration of Justice Information Systems. (2002). Bureau of Justice Assistance This guidebook helps provide the tools local governments need to develop successful governance structures and improve upon existing structures. It can enhance the capability and capacity of local governments to move toward the horizontal and vertical integration of justice information sharing systems.
Geerkin, Dr. Michael. Performance Measurement for Justice Information Systems . (March 2008). Center for Society, Law and Justice , Texas State University For criminal justice and law enforcement agencies, new information system projects must be justified in terms of documented improvements in justice, efficiency, and public safety. This justification is often made with performance measures.
Webster, Larry. Roadmap for Integrated Justice: A Guide for Planning and Management. (March 2004). Search, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. This report was created to help policy leaders of the justice enterprise understand their roles and responsibilities, so they can provide the strong leadership that is essential for integration project success.
Why is Integration Important?. IIJIS - Illinois Integrated Justice Information System Brochure defining the entities and benefits of an Integrated Criminal Justice System.

E Courts

Caradonna, Peter. New Hampshire E-Court Project: e-court issues and choices, part 2. (2011). New Hampshire Judicial Branch and the National Center for State Courts.

The key issues discussed in this document are: the architecture of document management, implementation by Whole Court or by Case Type, and Implement Day Forward or Ingest Active/Legacy Documents.

Eigo, Tim. Pushing Paper The Path to Digital Courts. (July 2009). Arizona Attorney A Round Table discussion on the issues of E-Notification, E-Filing and E -Public Access in the Arizona Courts,   (Note: Article is located on page 46.) 
Green Courts Initiative for the Circuit Court of Cook County. (December 2008). Chicago Bar Association Task Force

See page 16  -  Technology Subcommittee Report.  - Specific findings, from this report, indicate that electronic court technologies can materially improve citizens' access to justice while at the same time reduce the amount of paper, vehicle fuel and other natural resources the Cook County justice system consumes.

The Emergence of E-Everything. (December 2005).

Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) Position Paper

This COSCA Position Paper was adopted as proposed by the Policy and Liaison Committee at the COSCA 2005 Midyear Meeting, San Diego, California, December 9, 2005 in Resolution 8.

E Everything

Wake County joins the NCAWARE program. (July 2009). WRAL,com. Raleigh . Durham . Fayetteville, North Carolina Wake County law enforcement, courthouse staff and magistrates began using an electronic arrest warrant system, NCAWARE (North Carolina Arrest Warrant Repository)in July 2009. (Note: See video).   NCAWARE was launched in June 2008 in Johnson County.  "NCAWARE links police, court data in fighting  crime."   
eCharging Pilot . (September 2009). Report to the Minnesota Supreme Court A report on the success of eCharging pilot in Minnesota. 
eCharging Service allows for routing, temporary retention, filing, and printing on demand of all charging documents (including electronic signatures) for all felony, gross misdemeanor and statutory misdemeanor cases.
E-Citation Implementation. North Carolina Court System Citation information is entered into the E-Citation system using a mobile data computer (MDC) in the patrol car that prints out the citation to give to the recipient.
E-Courtroom. The Judicial Branch of Arizona - Maricopa County Superior Court Studies have found that high-tech court proceedings can cut trial time for a civil case by 25 percent. Tour the E-Courtroom.
E-Working Copies. Superior Court Clerk`s Office - King County, Washington E-Working Copies is an optional, value-added service which complements the E-Filing of court documents.  E-Working Copies allows users to electronically transmit documents which will then be printed, assembled and ordered into working copies and presented to a judge or commission as instructed. 
Electronic Citation and Warning System (eCWS). Judicial Technology and Automation Committee, Indiana Courts Law enforcement agencies use this system to electronically print tickets at the time of a traffic stop. 
I-Jury Online Impaneling. Travis County, Texas, District Court Travis County Online Impaneling allows answering of jury summons online.  Cost benefits for this application include: reduction of cost of jury pay through avoided appearances (saves $100,000+ per year}; reduction in number of summonses sent because of increased juror participation; and reduction in the number of scheduled impaneling sessions (saves $25,000+ per year in rent).
Simultaneous Paperless Image Retrieval Information Technology (S.P.I.R.I.T.). Clerk of Courts, Miami-Dade County, Florida

The SPIRIT Project (Simultaneous Paperless Image Retrieval Information Technology) is a highly innovative venture intended to launch the clerk's office into the 21st century.

Electronic Court Record

Electronic Court Record Improves Judicial Process. (2009). YouTube Video from Harvard University Ash Institute

A  video showing the King County Electronic Court Records system features many court staff and judges  discussing the challenges and benefits of an E-Court.

Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF). U. S. Courts - The Federal Judiciary

This system allows attorneys to file documents directly with the court over the Internet and courts to file, store, and manage their case files in an easy to access, transparent way. After ten years a group of federal judges and court staff is thinking about the future of the system as reported in "Looking for the Next Generation of the CM/ECF System" in the Third Branch (May 2009).

Wessels, Bob and Harry Leverette. Data Quality Management for Courts. (March 2009). Caseload Highlights. Volume 16 Number 2.

The courts of Harris County, Texas, are presently transitioning from traditional paper files to "E-records" as the official case records. This article describes the evolving methods for data quality management.

ECR Online. Court of Superior Court, Maricopa County, Arizona This system provides access to documents in the Electronic Court Record (ECR).  Attorneys are able to access images on cases where they are on the case record, and individual parties will have access to cases where they are the party of record
Electronic Case Filing - a Tutorial . U. S. District Court

Through guided practice, using simulated CM/ECF screens and actions, the user learns file pleadings, run reports,  and other materials using the CM/ECF system.

Electronic Content Management (ECM) . Oregon Judicial System

The ECM Project consists of the implementation of an ECM system and eFiling for all case types.  ECM is the primary tool in the achievement of the OJD’s goal of a paperless court environment. 

High Tech Courtrooms

Courtroom 2000 . (March 2006). New York State Supreme Court, New York County - Civil Branch The Supreme Court of the State of New York operates several technologically advanced courtrooms. 
E-Courtroom Training Guide . (October 2003). Travis County Civil Court (Texas) The E-Courtroom system is an evidence presentation tool that utilizes a dedicated computer, electronic wall-display, data monitors, DVD/VCR, document presenter, printer and integrated audio system.
Hinds Couny Courtroom 2000 Fact Sheet . (June 2000). Jackson, Mississippi The electronic courtroom is a trial presentation system installed with cutting-edge, easy-to-use technology for civil and criminal trials. The heart of the system is a high-speed network that links television monitors and peripheral devices.

Walker, Lin. Faster Trials with Technology, Manhattan, New York. (February 1998). Court Technology Bulletin.

The State Supreme Court's commercial division demonstrated New York's first integrated courtroom, Courtroom 2000. Courtroom 2000 is a state-of-the-art courtroom featuring flat screen monitors, evidence presentation tools, laptop computers, and instantaneous transcripts from court reporters.

Walker, Lin. Courtroom of the Future, Jackson County, Missouri. (March 1997). Court Technology Bulletin.

On February 21, 1997, the 16th Circuit Court in Jackson County, Missouri, unveiled its "Courtroom of the Future." This technically advanced courtroom is expected to bring the circuit court into the 21st century well prepared to handle the challenges of the new millennium.

 

Trammell, Honorable George. Cirque du O.J.. (July 1995). Court Technology Bulletin.

Some of the nation's biggest names in technology have been involved in a virtual stampede to get on the O.J. bandwagon. Dozens of companies have been successful in getting either one of the parties or the court to use their products or services. Included are nineteen photographs illustrating the technologies used in Judge Ito's Courtroom.

 

Center for Legal and Court Technology and the Courtroom 21 Project. William and Mary School of Law and The National Center for State Courts, Williamsburg, VA Courtroom 21, unveiled in August, 1993, is the most technologically advanced courtroom in the world.  The courtroom is a joint project of the William and Mary School of Law and The National Center for State Courts. 
High Tech Courtroom 625. The Philadelphia Courts The recently renovated Courtroom 625 in historical City Hall has become the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania's high technology courtroom.
eLitigation -- Technology in the Superior Court. Delaware State Courts - First State Judiciary The Delaware Superior Court has been in the forefront of technology use in the courtroom. Their experimental eCourtroom became operational in August 1999.  The Court built upon the hands-on experience gained in the experimental eCourt and proceeded to establish new hi-tech courtrooms in New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County
E-Courtroom. Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County Studies have found that high-tech court proceedings can cut trial time for a civil case by 25 percent. Prior to the use of high tech courtrooms, litigants were limited to presenting evidence by displaying sketches, photographs and case documents on easels or by passing them to jurors to view individually.
Courthouse Equipment and Technology. 2nd Judicial District, South Dakota "South Dakota’s 2nd Judicial Circuit is one of the most well-equipped judicial districts in the United States, with some of the most advanced courtroom electronics and capabilities available anywhere."

Courtroom 21

Lederer, Frederic. . Courtroom Technology: A Status Report. (2005). College of William and Mary School of Law This article is based on a decade of experience in pushing courtroom technology to and past the "bleeding edge," including the annual Courtroom 21 laboratory trials, which for the last three years have involved major simulated criminal prosecutions  Frederic Lederer is Chancellor Professor of Law and Director of Courtroom 21
McKay, Jim Technology on Trial. (December 2002). Government Technology Magazine. Courtroom 21's mission is to determine how technology can make courtroom procedures easier and more effective for lawyers, judges and juries. It also introduces technology to law students and courts around the world. Law students at William & Mary are among the first required to file their legal-skills documents electronically.
Lederer, Frederic The Road To the Virtual Courtroom. (December 2002). This article reviews the nature of the burgeoning courtroom technology revolution, posits some of the critical legal, human, and policy questions that accompany it, and ponders the desirability of a "virtual courtroom."  Frederic Lederer is Chancellor Professor of Law and Director of Courtroom 21.
Lederer, Frederic. Courtroom Practice in the 21st Century. (July 1999). Trial Interrelated technology trends will combine to alter what we consider "normal" in the arena of courtroom litigation.   Primary among these trends will be remote appearances, visual trial and appeal, and ubiquitous information.  The 21st century virtual courtroom may combine these trends.  Frederic Lederer is Chancellor Professor of Law and Director, Courtroom of 21.

Courtroom 23

Walker, Lin. Courtroom 23, Orange County, Florida. (1999). Court Technology Bulletin.

On May 14, 1999, the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orange County, Florida formally opened "Courtroom 23," a leading-edge, technologically advanced, integrated courtroom.

Courtroom 23. Orange County, FL The goal of the Courtroom 23 project was to create a hi-tech courtroom that seamlessly integrated the latest in courtroom technology and enhanced courtroom performance and presentation.
Courtroom 23 Slide Show. Orange County, FL Slide show presenting pictorial views of the functions of the Roger A. Barker Courtroom (Courtroom 23).  Other slide show presentations include Courtroom Technology and Ninth Circuit Technology Overview.

Federal Courtrooms

Courtroom Technology Manual. (August 1999). Administrative Office of the U. S. Courts. This manual provides technical standards for infrastructure, video evidence presentation systems, videoconferencing systems, and sound systems.
Courtroom Makeover Shows Value of Electronic Technology. (January 1998). The Third Branch Built in the 1960s, the Denver courthouse was not equipped to handle two high-profile trials. 
Survey Tallies Judges` Interest In Courtroom Technology. (May 1997). The Third Branch It is clear that technology has found a vital place in the courtroom.
Automated Modeling Assists in Courtroom Planning. (May 1997). The Third Branch As courts and circuit councils plan for courtroom use well into the next millennium, they will have a handy tool to visualize their future space requirements

Litigation Support

Ikens, Laura Trends in Courtroom Technology: Has the Picture Changed?. (January 2007). Legal Tech Newsletter How law firms are both adopting and utilizing trial technology, including: online research, electronic filing, mobile technology and hardware in the courtroom, litigation support software and electronic discovery. 
Bos, Carole, Esq. Presenting Evidence with Courtroom Technology. (October 2004). Bos & Glazier Trial Attorneys White paper on technology in the courtroom.
Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System Navigating the Hazards of E-Discovery (2nd Edition).

Discusses terminology, background, summary of current issues, and relevant case law associated with e-discovery.

Online Articles

Van Sant, Will Reboot of Computer Project for Courts Sought. . (September 2008). tampabay.com, St Petersburg Times, FL. After sinking nearly $10-million and years of labor into an enhanced computer system for local courts, Pinellas County leaders want to scrap the in-house effort and pay a private company millions more to complete the job.
Indiana Supreme Court Receives Honorable Mention in International for Information Accuracy. (November 2008). Supreme Court, State of Indiana The Indiana Supreme Court has been recognized by the Information Integrity Coalition (IIC) for providing accurate, consistent and reliable information. 
Douglas, Merrill Justice Collaboration. (July 2007). Government Technology Magazine Pennsylvania's Justice Network (JNET) has gained widespread acclaim as a tool for sharing criminal justice and public safety information.
Missouri`s Judicial Branch: ``XML technology paid off this year`` . (January 2006). Government Technology Magazine Missouri's Judicial Branch has been involved in implementation of a statewide case management system for almost ten years.  
Heck, Cary. Information Collection, Storage, and Use for Drug Courts: Developing a Statewide System. (February 2005). Statewide Technical Assistance Bulletin, Volume 3.

The purpose of this Bulletin is to discuss and make recommendations regarding the development of statewide drug court case management systems.

JIS Organizations

Forum for the Advancement of Court Technology (FACT). http://fact.ncsc.dni.us/ FACT is a consortium of private-sector companies and senior court representatives dedicated to strengthening the dialogue between courts and their providers of technology. 
IJIS Institute. The IJIS Institute is the only national organization that brings together industry and government in an effort to improve national security and promote effective information sharing across all levels of the justice, public safety, and homeland security communities.
Justice information Sharing Practitioners Network (JISP). JISPNet.org JISP is interested in best practices, standards, and resources for solving the issues of information sharing within criminal and juvenile justice at local, state, and national levels.
National Association for Justice Information Systems (NAJIS). http://www.najis.org/ NAJIS is an organization of individuals who are responsible for the acquisition, operation and management of local, state and federal criminal justice information systems.

Information Privacy and Security

Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. (February 2008). U.S. Department of Justice`s Global Justice Information Sharing Initiatives

Report contains policy templates for information sharing. One element of a more robust information gathering and sharing system is an up-to-date and comprehensive policy protecting individuals’ privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

Privacy Policy Guidance. (October 2006). Illinois Integrated Justice Information System Privacy Policy Subcommittee This report identifies and discusses several of the privacy issues confronting the enhanced collection, analysis, and sharing of justice information made possible by advancing computer technologies.
Information Systems Acceptable Use Policy . (March 2006). Iowa Judicial Branch The purpose of this policy is to outline the acceptable use of computer equipment at Iowa Judicial Branch. These rules are in place to protect the employee and Iowa Judicial Branch. Inappropriate use exposes Iowa Judicial Branch to risks including virus attacks, compromise of network systems and services, and legal issues.
Arizona Judicial Information Network (AJIN) Security Manual . (April 2004). Arizona Supreme Court This document establishes the policies, procedures and standards used to govern the Arizona Judicial Information Network (AJIN).
Harbitter, Alan Ph.D. Information Security in Integrated Justice Applications. (February 2003). Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute An Introductory Guide for Practioners that discusses important security technologies, such as encryption, public key infrastructure, biometrics, firewalls, and virtual private networks, among others, and discusses best practices in security for an integrated justice environment.

Archives

Report on the National Task Force on Privacy, Technology and Criminal Justice. (August 2001). Findings and recommendations of Task Force on Privacy, Technology and Criminal Justice Information which was supported by BJS and SEARCH, and the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics.
Cresswell, Anthony et al. And Justice for All: Developing a Business Case for the Integration of Criminal Justice Information. (2000). Center of Government Technology, University of Albany This guidebook offers a series of lessons and tools that justice officials can use to build business cases to win support and funding for integrated justice information systems.
Case Studies - Integrated Criminal Justice Systems . Search.org From Fall 1999 to February 2003 the National Task Force on Court Automation and Integration created a series of reports on Criminal Justice Information Systems.  The reports include  Marin County, California; Delaware: The Evolution of integration; Colorado: Project Overview and Recommendations; and Metro/Davidson County, TN:  Project Overview and Keys to Success.
Report of the National Task Force on Court Automation and Integration. (July 1999). This national effort focuses on developing practical resources for courts to use in automating and integrating information systems, both within the courts and throughout the justice system