NCSC Data Dives explores linking court records

NCSC Data Dives explores linking court records

April 17, 2024 -- Record linkage programs use information that can be matched across records. The latest installment of NCSC's Data Dives series examines how courts can address the challenge of matching records from different data sources.

The problem: data sources

In many courts, records are stored in different databases—such as criminal case and pretrial data tables—or by another governmental agency, potentially lacking a unique record ID used to track the multiple entries of each record. Connecting court records to data from other sources can help courts provide better services and improve the administration of justice in each jurisdiction.

"When consulting with courts, we find that connecting court data with external sources is a key component of innovative projects," said Andre Assumpcao, an NCSC data scientist and author of Data Dives Episode #5: Record Linkage. "Some ideas are hard to implement because another agency holds the data records they need, and these can’t easily be matched to court records.”

The solution: record linkage

One solution to this problem is record linkage, which is a statistical technique that uses various attributes within court records to identify potential record matches.

Record-matching tools can use common information such as names, addresses, dates of birth, race, and ethnicity. Additional matching information can include professional occupation, educational background, zip code, emails, and IP addresses.

Record linkage has different flavors. Data Dive #5 reviews the difference between deterministic and probabilistic linkage and provides resources for courts seeking to advance their ability to connect records from different sources.

Data Dive #5 also highlights various factors courts should consider before implementing a record linkage application. These factors include the hierarchy between the information used for matching, whether to use inexact information matches, and determination of the acceptable level of matching errors.

NCSC Data Dives 

NCSC Data Dives is a forum designed to help the court community explore data analytics more deeply and gain valuable insights to solve data problems. Earlier Data Dives topics are:

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Nebraska State Bar Foundation receives national civics education award

The Nebraska State Bar Foundation has been awarded the Sandra Day O'Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education for its longstanding commitment to promoting civics education. Over the years, the Bar Foundation has developed various programs, including a high school mock trial program, a juror orientation video, and a Bench Media Committee that promotes public awareness of the legal system through open dialogue with the news media.

Given by NCSC to honor the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the award recognizes an organization, court, program, or individual who has promoted, inspired, improved, or led an innovation or accomplishment in the field of civics education related to the justice system.

The Nebraska State Bar Foundation will receive the award during the annual conference of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators this summer.

Read the full announcement online.